I'm Tired of the RIAA. I Want to Hear from the Musicians.

by Derrick Story

Dateline: Sam's Newsstand, NYC:

It has just been reported that six Butterfinger candy bars were illegally downloaded into a college student's backpack from Sam's newsstand in New York City. The candy was then distributed to friends who are know to have a craving for this chocolate-covered peanut butter confection.

Candy Makers Association spokesperson Rillary Hosen quickly responded by saying, "I thought Sam's had adequately secured his newsstand. Apparently, offering single purchases of our candy for 99 cents just isn't good enough for some people. We're looking into once again, only offering case purchases, and from more responsible retail outlets."

Crack industry reporter, Frankly Speaking, has published an article quoting Sam as saying, "Yeah, I lost a few bucks cause of those punks. But that happens sometimes. Overall, I had a very good day and sold nearly two cases of candy bars. I'll try to keep a better eye on things, but I don't want to inconvenience my good customers."

While lawyers argue over the constitutionality of only offering case purchases of candy bars, no comment was available from the talented people who actually make the desired commodity.


I think the news flash above, and the article I read this morning, Hackers bite Apple in its iTunes by David Zeiler, is typical of the press I've seen about music sharing, the Apple Music Store, downloading music, etc.

I see quotes from industry analysts, RIAA, and the EFF. But once again, I don't know what the actual artists are thinking. They are the ones who create the content that everyone else is arguing about. I'm tired of listening to the RIAA. I want to hear from the musicians.

Please post any links you have to music artists commenting on the Apple Music Store and related issues so we can hear what they have to say.


2003-05-22 09:53:48
Candy Bars are not Music Singles - the analogy is flawed
Unless someone has come up with a Candy Bar cloning device (News: 24X Candy-Bar Writer now available for $99.95)

I dont support the RIAA's stance in any form - but stealing music is just that. You could still get 3 to 5 for stealing bread (or candy bars) - even though you were really hungry and Wonder only sold bread for $10 and over! The law is there for a purpose - change the law, dont break it.


2003-05-22 10:41:06
Does the INDUSTRY pay royalties
Given litigation on music like "the lion sleeps tonight" where the original artist became royally screwed by the industry, initiatives like the Apple one are interesting for artists if they get a fair deal. Given the amount of involvement and costs when dealing with a medium like internet, I am not convinced that it will benefit artists in general. I hope that not only those who are marketed by industry get some royalties.

When an artist WITHOUT a contract with industry (RIAA related) is sold on the internet, how do they get their dues and what goes to industry and why does it ?

2003-05-22 10:48:52
Candy Bars are not Music Singles - the analogy is flawed
Laws should be obeyed, but only up until a point; unless you'd like to argue against civil disobedience, which is a difficult argument to make in a democracy.

Every analogy is going to be flawed to a point - it's inherent to an analogy's nature. But I think Derrick's analogy holds true for the point it is making.

Sam's selling candy bars at 99 cents was a hit with consumers, and he's not going to let a few bad apples ruin it for everyone. Same thing holds true for music, regardless of whether the Candy-Bar Writer for $99.95 exists or not :-)

2003-05-22 11:04:31
Analogy is for fun, but the point is serious
The point I'm most interested in is knowing what the musicians think. If you know an artist who creates music, please encourage him or her to comment in these TalkBacks. If you have a link to an article where a musician is talking about online music, post it here.

I think the other discussion is fine, but I want musicians to participate too.

2003-05-22 13:00:57
This musician loves file sharing
I sing, write songs, and play ukulele and guitar in a small-time Seattle rock band. As a musician and music fan, the era of file sharing has been an absolute dream come true, a dream mitigated only by the inane but predictable meddling of the record industry.

As Tim O'Reilly said, piracy is progressive taxation. There has NEVER been a time when more than a tiny percentage of musicians made money on album or single sales. Musicians make money a lot of different ways. They do session work. They play in orchestras and jazz bands. They play covers at weddings and proms. They write jingles. They play original material at live shows.

None of these traditional ways for musicians to make money is endangered by unrestricted file sharing.

Anybody who gets into music in order to make money on album sales is deluded. This has been true since long before there were personal computers. Despite that, musicians continue to make incredibly great new records. One example that comes to mind is an LA band called The Green and Yellow TV, which has self-published a couple of gorgeously produced Beatlesque rock albums. On their website (http://www.thegreenandyellowtv.com/) they encourage listeners to trade their music freely online.

But the GYTV's songs aren't on enough hard drives, I guess, because I had trouble finding them on Kazaa. So I happily bought their two CDs for a total of $22. Piracy is progressive taxation. One of the CDs seems to have been created with a CDR drive, some stickers, and an inkjet printer. I can't tell you how happy this makes me.

As a musician, I want lots of people to hear and enjoy my music. As a music listener, I want easy access to lots of good, new music. Trading of MP3s makes both of these things easier than ever before.

As I said, my band is small-time. That's okay with me. If some bizarre fluke resulted in our songs being so widely traded that hundreds of thousands of people were talking about them, it is hard to imagine how we could fail to turn that into income. Even if we couldn't, though, we'd be delighted to continue writing and recording songs. It's FUN.

I don't know whether the record companies really have something to fear from file sharing. But musicians and music fans certainly do not.

2003-05-22 14:07:41
I'm Tired of the RIAA. I Want to Hear from the Musicians
The musicians (majority of them under contract to the Big 5) are work for hire employees of the labels. They have no rights to anything they create, it all becomes the intellectual property of the label.

Like any major corporation, the employees must follow the company policy about answering public relations questions. (That means they can't, without legal action and loss of employment) Company Lawyers and PR spokespeople can respond. This is why you will not hear from the actual writers and performers.

2003-05-22 14:13:12
I agree. The artists should speak.
The RIAA and other bullshit middlemen should have no say in all this. They only care about one thing..and it's neither what is good for the artists or what is good for the audience. The voice of the artists and audience should be heard, decisions should then be made by an independant third party.
2003-05-22 15:13:36
Are the Record Companies That Strong?
I'm curious about this situation. So musicians under contract with the Big 5 can't speak their minds about online music for fear of reprisal?

I'm not an expert by any means, that's why I'm asking. But it seems strange that a community that has artists like the Dixie Chicks (with Bruce Springsteen later stepping up to the mic to support them) doesn't have anything to say about their own economic future.

If the general silence is fear based, how on earth did the record companies get so strong to intimidate both sides of the fence?

This all seems to go against common sense. The musicians I knew and played in bands with weren't that timid. Apathetic, yes (which is the point of this blog), but scared?

2003-05-22 15:45:43
Here's a Link to Musician Comments About File Sharing
This link just came via email: musicunited.org that lists lots of artist opinions about illegal copying and distribution of music. This is good for conversation, but I think most people agree that stealing music from artists is bad. What about the Apple Music Store, Roxio's purchase of PressPlay, and other more legal alternatives?

PS: If you do a Whois search on www.musicunited.org, you'll see that the registrant is the RIAA. Look it up for yourself.

2003-05-22 15:50:54
candybars and music filesharing - an artist perspective
My position is that any artist who wants to share his or her or their music with others for free has the right to do so. Also, if an artist does not want their music shared for free that is their right and wish, and as such it should be obliged.

It seems to me that the "free and good promotion" argument can be solved by having a listing of music that artists want to share for free: all other downloads, transfers, so called swapping (I say "so called" because I swapped cars with my friend once and there was still only one of each car - though mine came back with a few more dings than his did), etc. of music is actually duplication. Duplicates are not swapped or shared originals - they are copies of the original. Although the copyright laws are not perfect, they are nun-the-less clear that it is illegal to duplicate and distribute copies of an original without consent or payment. For those of us who wish to argue "the copyright law is bad and flawed, therefore I am justified in breaking it" argument I can only say that I wish the 10 million downloaders in the world would put that kind of concentrated energy into legally and politically changing the laws into ones that would be more equitable for all concerned.

Peter Janson - Contemporary fingerstyle acoustic guitarist

2003-05-22 15:55:43
Is intellectual property a "Good" or a "Service"
I have no problems paying for a physical product or to have someone do a service for me. Paying for information is a lot fuzzier. In our capitalist society we protect intellectual property to an extreme, insisting on payment above and beyond the cost to produce the information. Can you imagine paying some guy $10 million to cut your grass?

If it takes $750k to make an album (paying 5 band members $100k salary, and use $250k to make the recordings, then all they need to recover is $750k. If they sell 75,000 albums at $10/each they're done. After that the price should start to go down. Why do we need to pay $18 per CD for albums that have gone gold or platinum?

Personally, I have no remorse in pirating songs from the mega-groups that rake in millions per year. I'd rather direct that money to a number of charities to help individuals who need it more.

The record companies are not needed anymore. Musicians can get great exposure on the internet. Thank goodness for the internet, since Big Brother (Clear Channel, et al.) has taken over the media the diversity of music on the airwaves has dropped dramatically.

2003-05-22 16:01:04
From a musician
Pause as I drag up a soapbox:

First: this country does not value its musicians or the music we produce. Why?- Music, in itself is intangible- it is actually an experience- a form of communication, and the US places far more value on things that can be owned or held. I play jazz, and I have a computer based music studio. I always have people that want me to play for free, and they always are suprised when i quote a for hire figure-, "oh, that's too much. I'll get a DJ instead." Oy. But this for hire figure is less than what they would pay a plumber! So stop and think- is it fair to a musician to ask for us to give away our works? Of course not, but most file sharing morons don't see cause and effect- they have a buck the system mentality.

Let me clue you in to something real- if an artist creates a platinum selling CD he/she/they are still in the hole! They never see a cent off the first CD- it isn't until the second one comes out that the money comes in, so artists are forced to tour like crazy to make money to support themselves. So, yes, we get upset when we see people using our music to make money or for entertainment. Every time I hear a live DJ, I want to go up and take $30 from him, because he is using the works of musicians to make money and is not bothering to pay the people that make it possible for him to be a DJ.

Music is not free. Music is what I do, just as if I was a computer consultant, and I want to get paid for it and have a comfortable life style, just like everyone else does. But every time you steal music, or everytime a bar plays music, or every time a DJ goes off to do a party, without paying royalties, you are making life harder for a musician. And don't even try to use the "well they have so much dough, it is alright" rationale. the vast majority of musicians are poor and have to have second jobs just to pay bills, but they toil away at doing what we love- music, in spite of the odds, in spite of music thieves, in spite of those who consider musicians to be second class citizens.

The value of the net is that we can now sell music and make far more money per cut than through the music biz. The catch is that the biz has the weight to enforce replay and copyright laws (RIAA). Yes, the RIAA is the big bad wolf, but that is what they are supposed to do- enforce the laws. So don't get mad at the cop who caught you stealing, and don't think it is OK to steal.
And last, hats off to Apple for iTunes and teh 99 cent a song D/l they made. The msuic biz hasn't figured this out yet, but Apple just made it possible for us musicians to sell our works in a reasonable safe channel, and get paid for it.

2003-05-22 16:11:01
From a musician
You said "if an artist creates a platinum selling CD he/she/they are still in the hole! They never see a cent off the first CD- it isn't until the second one comes out that the money comes in, so artists are forced to tour like crazy to make money to support themselves."

That's hard to believe! If it's true then the record industry needs to die, because the record industry (and not people pirating music) are the ones who are committing the greatest crime.

In fact, that's all the more reason not to buy CDs. Musicians need to get organized, find a way to get paid directly by their fans.

This system is broke and needs to be destroyed.

2003-05-22 16:11:13
Here's a Link to Musician Comments About File Sharing
So it's not a link to Musician Comments, but rather a link to RIAA comments where the pretend to be musicians.
2003-05-22 16:12:23
Is intellectual property a "Good" or a "Service"
You don't know what your talking about at all, do you? i can tell you are not a musician who has actually gone through the "process", cut the tracks, stayed up till 7:00AM doing mixes, seen the contracts, read the figures, counted promo fees, etc. Wake up- there are a lot more costs involved, and $250K is piddling. It costs money to get the CD aired and cuts pushed. $100K salary? get real! It isn't a salary- it is an advance on record sales- it has to be paid back, and it doesn't work that way. The musicians are fronted-loaned- a lump to take care of all expenses- personal, food, gear, etc. In my case, we were happy to get $750 p/w each as "salary". And $750 doesn't last long at all in LA. Clue in: that image of musicians running out and buying Ferraris after signing a contract is a myth. I was glad to have money to fix my clunker.
2003-05-22 16:27:28
Are the Record Companies That Strong?
I can't comment on the parent poster's statements about 'following company policy', but I think its clear that many musicians are under significant pressure not to go against the RIAA's standpoint. In the current day and age, image and marketing is about as important as talent if you want to make it big (you won't be popular if no-one hears you), and you need big connections to get that kind of exposure. That's where the record companies come in. So I think many popular artists probably see publicly supporting file sharing as biting the hand that feeds them, potentially costing them their connections and ruining their chances at (super-)stardom.

(Notice, for example, that the Dixie Chicks 'regretted' their statement afterwords and tried to restore goodwill with their fans, and there's little doubt that they were under significant pressure to do so.)

Mega-stars like Madonna can say what they want knowing that the music industry will likely always want to work with them, and independents not aspiring for stardom can also speak their mind. But for a lot of folks in the middle, I'd wager its an issue of not wanting to anger the people who sign their paychecks. =)

2003-05-22 16:31:25
Are the Record Companies That Strong?
The original poster is wrong. He describes a scenario where the artist has signed away all his rights: copyrights, publishing, points on sales. The record company may want to get a slice of the publishing, but they are forbidden by law to claim authorship of works created by others than themselves.

Musicians can say what we want- in fact, some acts are encouraged to be outrageous (bite a bat?), go Oz and MM and Trent, etc., but the biz in general is sensitive about politics- McCarthyism. And the C&W market is hypocritical about what they think C&W artists should do, say, and look like. Nashville is a production line, so all artists need to stay on that line. Move to Nashville? Before you look for a house, better get a hat and boots. the Chicks had the brass to voice an opinion, but Nashville got a case of self righteous mob mentality and went after the Chicks, only to discover that efforts to ruin them failed. Miserably, and repeatedly. I would guess that this whole episode speaks more about the unrealness of Nashville's music biz, than anything else.

2003-05-22 16:37:26
Is intellectual property a "Good" or a "Service"
Sounds to me like you're using the old model. Using expensive recod company studios and engineers. People are making great music for a lot less these day.

You also pay a lot to get your songs pushed because there are so many palms that need to be greased along the way. Unfortunately, that is getting worse as the goverment further deregulates things so that all the media is owned by a few monster companies.

Computers and the internet is a revolution that can change things, if only the musicians would learn enough to take advantage of it. Don't buy into the crap from the record companies, they're only trying to protect their obsolete and selfish interests.

2003-05-22 16:45:12
From a musician
Hey- you find the realities of the biz hard to believe? Wake up-this is it. It can be worse- if the first CD doesn't sell that well, then the second CD is used to pay expenses for the first CD! Google Courtney Love and read what she has to say about her experiences in the biz- it's a real eye opener.

I knew a very talented group that had nice sales, but were out doing a couch tour, because they had no money. It was sick to hear their music all over the place and knowing that the guy's wife was home unable to make the rent. I know- I loaned her the money to cover it.

And finally forget the politics and arguements. Want to do some real good? Next time you hear a good local musician, give him/her money, buy him supper- do something show him /her that you support them. But for Gawd's sakes, don't stand around complaining about a system that you will never have to work with.

2003-05-22 18:23:12
Courtney Love said it best
I find a lot of realities in the world hard to believe. I wish this was the worst, but unfortunately it's not. I've read Courtney Love's writings about the record companies and they only reinforce my beliefs that the realities of the music biz have to change.

I understand the realities of the business, I just don't accept them as ethical or effective.

Let's take getting a college education as an example. These days students end up with $100k or more in student loans, that often takes them years to pay off. And if the poor student doesn't complete the degree, they still have to pay back the loans. Kinda like the musician's first CD not selling well. It's a reality and it's not fair. Only the rich can afford an education these days. In other countries (and in the old days of the USA) education is subsidized by the government, because it is seen as an important societal need.

For me, music is the same. I can't imagine a society without music. In the old days, the US government used to have a decent Endowment for the Arts, until the right wing conservatives cut its budget to nothing.

Why should only the rich be allowed to listen to music?

Politics are important. I think the musicians of our country would find it easier for them to make music if we have a more equitable distribution of wealth. Then more people would have more money to give to their local musicians.

2003-05-22 18:25:14
TRi - Todd Rundgren Comments in The Onion's AV Club This Week
In a supremely great stroke of timing, this week The Onion's AV Club features an interview with Todd Rundgren.


If you aren't acquainted with Todd, you haven't listened to any music in the past 30 or so years. Recognized as one of the most mercurial of modern recording artists, he is also one of the greatest of all record producers, having produced Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell as well as Grand Funk Railroad, Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, Badfinger, The Tubes, and many, many more. As well, he has toured with Ringo and the All Stars, and has been covered by Dweezil Zappa. Edgar Winter, and Steve Vai, along with many others. Todd is one of the pre-eminent digitial artists. He was involved in authoring the first graphics program for the Mac, along with his later totally fresh music visualizer Flowfazer (think iTunes visuals on Mac OS System 6!). He also pioneered many ground breaking recording and performing technologies, CD technologies, and moved to an Internet based presence almost 10 years ago on his website http://www.tr-i.com/. One of his music video's was the 2nd ever broadcast on MTV on the very first day they were broadcasting.

Known for songs as early as "We Got To Get You A Woman" to as popular as his "Bang On A Drum", which has been played at every modern sporting event since its release, there is NO individual more qualified to comment on this issue. The very final paragraph of this very insightful interview covers his suggestions as to what the music industry should do regarding digital rights and survial in the digital age.

2003-05-22 19:15:24
I agree. The artists should speak.
The artists signed to the big 5 do not work for hire. The music industry tried to slip a provision making all their music work for hire into a Federal law without the knowledge of the Congressmen - a move which absolutely defines their sense of ethics - but they were caught.

This is not to say that the boilerplate record contract isn't hair-raising and deliberately engineered so that it's almost impossible for the signer to figure out what they're agreeing to, but it's not as bad as work for hire.

Speaking as a musician who is not signed to any label: What the RIAA is doing now is what publishers have been trying to do since they invented copyright by collusion in 17th century England: Get rights as exclusive as possible for as little as possible from the artists, and profit as much as possible from those rights as they can for as long as they possibly can. Musicians, like all artists, sign away their copyrights on their own material as an incentive to the publisher: The longer and more absolute the copyright, the more the publisher benefits. The artist, however, still gets whatever the publisher decides to give them.

It must never be forgotten that copyright was originally conceived by publishers to benefit publishers, and publishers are always trying to make sure that any more enlightened interpretation (such as, say, Jefferson's) is pushed out in favor of this original benefit. The artist is not part of the equation here, and the artist has never been the beneficiary of copyright, either in theory or in practice. (The US Constitution, or what little remains of it, attempts to recast it as a law in the interest of enriching the public domain).

In physical media such as CDs, publication is essentially synonymous with distribution. For independent artists and small labels, large scale distribution is basically out of the question. It's too expensive, doubly so in the case of retail. What the P2P networks represent is a means of distribution that is entirely outside the control of the publishers, essentially mooting them. The artists don't get royalties, but at the rate the Big 5 offer they'd hardly notice. (If you want to support artists, see them live! Buy their schwag! Buy their CDs at the concert! That's where the artists make money).

But the Big 5 take two more hits from P2P. First of all, they have a business model set up that tries to predict how successful a given artist should be, invests an amount of money in recording, marketing and distribution that reflects that prediciton, and then does everything possible to see that the reality matches the prediction. This is where control over distribution becomes crucial: If the record company can get a CD everywhere and hype the heck out of it, they can recoup their investment even if a fairly dismal percentage of the people who bought the CD actually like it. This is why record companies bitterly opposed listening booths in record stores, and it's why they oppose P2P: P2P undermines their (silly) business model even before accounting for piracy.

This same effect can make it attractive to independents and small labels, though: There's no way my band (the Letterpress Opry *plug*) could get into mainstream retail, or mount a national promotion campaign, or pay the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars it takes to get played by your local Clear Channel affiliate, so free distribution and what amounts to word-of-mouth marketing sounds great! Thanks in no small part to the MP3s we posted on our site, we have listeners in South America and Europe. There's simply no way that would ever have happened without the ability to download songs off the internet.

Yes, it's technically a copyright violation. Unauthorized publication is piracy (but, note, not "unauthorized" personal use, except under the most recent excuses for copyright law). But as an old folk song goes, some rob with a pistol, and some with a fountain pen, and I think a lot of people feel justified in stealing from people who they feel are thieves themselves - morally, if not technically.

My one gripe about P2P is bandwidth consumption. KaZaA is currently soaking up 1/3 of the University of Iowa's prodigious bandwidth (it was two T3s a few years ago; I'm sure they've upgraded since). Bandwidth costs real money, and in this case it isn't been hoarded by greedy corporations with broken business models. Remember that, folks: The Internet is a commons, and if you take from it all that you can you're precipitating a tragedy of the commons. If you're going to share, share responsibly - or at least find a host that charges you for the resources you use.

If you read this all the way to the bitter end, bless you. :-)


2003-05-22 19:19:55
Doh! (was I agree. The artists should speak.)
Figures. I type up a big, long article in reply to the wrong post.



2003-05-22 19:25:35
RE: Todd Rundgren's Comments
Thanks for the tip. Just read the interview, and it's interesting. But you have to scroll down all the way to the last question to get to the online music question. But it's worth it, Rundgren has some compelling views on this subject.
2003-05-22 19:32:34
Is intellectual property a "Good" or a "Service"
All true, and worth remembering.


I usually disdain all caps, but this can't be emphasized enough.

To make things worse, the record company almost always has more of a say in how much is spent than the band does! It's a real over-the-barrel job.

It's not clear that music sharing screws artists even more, however: The RIAA's numbers are deliberately vague. If you break down popularity on P2P networks vs. sales for individual CDs, you'll find that the most traded albums (Eminem's, last year) were the best selling, and the ones that barely even registered bombed at the checkout counter as well. There are lots of explanations for the decline in CD sales last year, not least of which is the fact that the Big 5 published 25% fewer titles!

What P2P amounts to is grassroots marketing and distribution, and it is in those aspects that it scares the RIAA. The record companies are only holding up the image of a poor, starving artist because that's the same fig leaf they've hidden behind for (literally) over 300 years while they've tried to change the law to suit themselves at everyone else's expense. The people who are downloading free music now (students, overwhelmingly) were borrowing CDs from the library, or from their friends, and taping them before Napster. And, as becomes clear once you break down the numbers farther than the RIAA is willing to, a lot of the other people who are sharing are buying, and albums sell almost in direct proportion to their P2P trading volume.

2003-05-22 20:55:47
RE: Todd Rundgren's Comments
What Rundgren said was perfect. Fellow Musicians listen up...

" I think the following should happen: First, artists should re-emphasize performance and de-emphasize recording. You always make more money if you have a healthy performing life than you will if you have even a moderately healthy recording life. Don't make recording the most important thing you do. Make performing the most important thing you do, and then you can make recordings and sell them at your shows, because record labels aren't going to be around to help you get on the radio stations, and the radio stations probably aren't going to play you anyway. The next thing in music is going to be more like Internet radio. Then, if I were in the record business, I would start getting out of the brick-and-mortar side of it and stop thinking of music as a commodity, and start thinking of it as a service, and develop models that more resemble cable television, where you pay a monthly fee and listen to as much as you can consume. If they can manage to do that, hey, if you get a million people paying 20 bucks a month, that's $20 million a month. That's $240 million a year, just off of a million people. So I think by that model, there's plenty of money to be made, but we've got to stop worrying about bootlegging and the economies around it. Make music a service that's easy to consume, and there'll be plenty of money for everyone. "

2003-05-23 10:41:51
I'm a musician.
I'm a musician, and a small time a label co-owner. Here's the deal:

1. I'm subject to being part of the ASCAP/BMG/RIAA mafia, whether I like it or not -- currently, it's the only way to get my tracks on shelves.

2. Things like the apple music store, pressplay, and emusic aren't exactly viable yet. I've basically setup three tiers of how I release tracks:

* First Run: Ideally, this would be something like the Apple Music store.
*Second Run: Subscription Radio services, such as those available to mp3.com users.
* Third (Final) Run: emusic.com

Ideally for someone who's smaller time, I can generate the same amount of income for a longer period of time.

3. The Apple Music Store is awful. I don't much care for their exclusivity. An open system is still needed for artists to sell their tracks. Mp3.com cuts it close, but the quality is still too low for my standards, and you can't sell individual tracks.

4. People want CD's. Not everyone is still online, until you've got CD kiosks in stores, attached to something like emusic or the apple music store, it's not viable.

5. I'm sick of mainstream artists being "hip" (todd whatshisface) and going online with their music. This revolution isn't about what's already mainstream going online.

6. Kind of along the same lines as point 5, what people don't realize is that nearly ALL the music they listen to is prefabricated crap. Your Linkin Parks and Korns of the world are just as fake as your Backsync Britney's. There's a good 10 years to go in the revolution before the RIAA big 5 can no longer fabricate not-very-original music acts and the people have finally won.

2003-05-23 11:59:28
I'm a musician.
Great Post! I learned a lot.
2003-05-23 12:54:02
I'm a musician. Interesting
I've learned a lot from this discussion. Good topic and good responses!
2003-05-23 14:06:39
From yet another musician
OK, I'm one of the musicians not being served by the RIAA. I don't give a fig for copyright, clear channel, MTV, or the rest of the media circus. They're not interested in me, in what I say or what I play, and I'm happy to return the favor.

I'm in favor of file sharing. My songs are my promotion. I'd like everyone to hear them and to share them. If they like them, they can come to my website to learn more and to sponsor my work.

I'd like to see the office of copyright become a central clearinghouse for metadata. I'd register my recordings there so commercial enterprises attempting to use them without permission could be busted, and so those wishing to find me could do so.

I'm in favor of compulsaries for radio/net play, provided that the monitoring is fine-grained enough to register small-fry like me, and open to public scrutiny. Otherwise, it's just another industry lock-out, and I'll fight it.

It's a terrific time to be making music. The industry ignores the majority of listeners and seems bent on alienating the market they have. Net distribution and affordable recording gear makes it possible to work outside the system. Once we clear out the cobwebs, we're in for an era of musical innovation like the world has never known.

Steam Powered Studio

2003-05-23 15:40:43
Two Good Links for Further Reading
Here are two more links that I've received via email from musicians. Some good stuff here:

The Internet Debacle by Janis Ian.

Embedded (in bed) in Cable TV - about a "fan invested" CD.

Derek Vadala
2003-05-23 15:55:33
Courtney Love said it best
I'm getting sick of people attributing this to Courtney Love-- it seems to happen a lot on geek web sites. When she gave her little tirade, she was basically paraphrasing an often overlooked article by Steve Albini (Shellac, Big Black, and producer of many many records big and small).



Derek Vadala

2003-05-23 16:05:46
was the candy still on the shelf after being "downloaded"?
the point is that property law doesn't apply. Copyright law applies. If candy could be copied at virtually no cost, who has the right to copy it?

Anyhow, as for the musicians, If they are already under contract, they see the future through that contract. But most copies are not lost sales. Those that never would have paid for it anyway. At least with a copy they might become paying customers.

2003-05-23 16:42:21
Musician Comment
The best music in America is not showing up on major labels.

What the majority of artists desire is to "avoid obscurity." When finishing a work of love, involving thousands of unpaid labor hours and financial investment, packaging and replication, it is simply not acceptable to have our work locked up in warehouses by copyright maximalists. Nor does any benefit accrue to the public. Unaffiliated artists hope to use P2P sharing for our own promotional purposes. The RIAA is fighting to maintain complete control of distribution, song production, price-fixing, and free speech.

It is not acceptable to shut down the networks and infringe on the rights of the "rest of us."

I hope that Apple Music will serve the public by promoting indie music. It proves nothing to have Apple spend its goodwill by promoting RIAA artists.


2003-05-24 00:58:42
Goods, not service
From a financial perspective, switching music from a good to a service is a complete bummer. The whole goal with making money is to divorce your income from your time. You want residual income, and that's what royalties do.

The people who use kazaa and used napster as a way to protest against the media companies on behalf of the artists are completely stupid. They think the musicians aren't getting enough of a share, so they steal from the media companies *and* the musicians? That makes no sense.

The music industry is a manifestation of the power law. Left to its own devices, a very small percentage of the artists will get the vast majority of the revenue, that's just the way it works. The problem with the industry is that they work on exaggerating the power-law-curve-distribution-thingy rather than flattening it. It's of course stupid to try and flatten it entirely, but diversity is good.

Part of this is an internet/globalization thing. Everyone's been drunk for five years with how easily accessible Starbucks, McDonald's, and Britney Spears are. Now they're getting hung over and sick of all the sameness and are starting to demand more variety. This is a good thing. Good for artists, too.

Music costs money to produce, it's good to charge for music downloads, good to pay money for them. Some music can be downloaded for free, at the artists choice, as a marketing tool. Others are still *goods*. Despite the fact that the media has no scarcity and can be duplicated freely, the content does have scarcity because it costs money and needs revenue to keep surviving.

So the future should be about finding new ways to route the money more efficiently to the artists themselves. Cut out the middlemen. Don't get duped into thinking music should be free.

Curt Siffert

2003-05-24 01:28:59
I work for a record co.
It seems what most people are doing here is trying to justify their theft of someone elses intelectual property.
Intelectual property that is a product,like any other product. And when you steal my companies product I don't get raises and might even get cut back all together so how would you feel if I was stealing your companies product.
2003-05-24 07:32:15
The People Are Not The Pirates
2003-05-24 09:16:18
I work for a publisher too, some thoughts
Your point is valid. I work for a company that among other things, publishes books. So I know what you mean. My "day job" depends on the financial health of O'Reilly & Associates. I want my company to do well so I can keep coming to work.

But, I'm also an independent writer, and O'Reilly is my publisher. In a sense, they are my record company, and I am the artist. But in my situation, I feel that as an artist, I'm treated fairly.

I earn 10 percent of all net revenue O'Reilly receives from my books. Other authors may get more or less, but I imagine that this is a ballpark for most O'Reilly authors.

I receive a fair advance against my royalties. If the book doesn't sell well for some reason, there's nothing in my contract that says I have to give that money back.

I'm given every opportunity to succeed. My book is promoted equally with all the other titles, and the more motivated I am to speak in public (tour), the better my chances of success. If I choose to write articles to promote my book, O'Reilly will publish them.

I'm working under the Founder's Copyright. That means if O'Reilly decides to take my book out of print, I have three months to find another publisher for it. I can actually "change labels" with my work if my publisher loses interest in it. If I don't find another publisher, it's released under the Creative Commons license.

And finally, I am treated with respect as an author.

Now, I don't want my books stolen from the bookstore because the bookstore might not know they're gone and not order more. Therefore I disappear from the shelves. Obscurity is the real concern.

But in all honesty, if someone copies a chapter from my Digital Photography Pocket Guide and distributes it to his photo class, I'm not going to send the O'Reilly police after him. Yes, I'd like it if he had his class buy the book, but that may not be practical under the circumstances. If one of those students copies his copy and gives it to a friend, I'm still not going to lose sleep. if he distributes a thousand copies, I'm going to wonder what the heck he's doing, and hope that my name and the book title is somewhere on those copies.

The words are just as valid in the copies as they are in the original. It is a lost book sales. But it's not the end of the world, and I have better things to think about. Maybe it will lead to book sales up the road.

OK, so my point is, and the point of many musicians, isn't that we promote stealing of our works. We don't. I think what most artists really want though is to be treated fairly and with respect. They want a chance to earn a decent living from their work, and they want their creations to flourish.

My belief is, right now, at this point in time, if I were a musician instead of a book writer, I wouldn't be treated as well as I am. That needs to be fixed.

2003-05-24 14:13:14
I'm a musician.
While you may have a decent message, I'm not so sure about some of your points.

"1. I'm subject to being part of the ASCAP/BMG/RIAA mafia, whether I like it or not -- currently, it's the only way to get my tracks on shelves."

I don't own a record company so I'm not sure of all the logistics, but I highly doubt you need to be a member of the "mafia" in order to get your tracks on the shelves. If you were talking about radio airplay, then you may have a stronger argument, but let me give you an example of why you may be wrong about getting your albums on the shelves. Four of the local recordshops in my area all carry independent artists, both local and non-local. many have agreements with the small, local record companies and local artists. If you have produced an album and they believe you have talent or someone is willing to buy it, they are more than willing to work out an arrangement with you to sell your CDs from their shops. Most have entire sections labelled Independent or Local artists. Granted, it's not the Virgin Megastore, fye, Best Buy or some other big chain but anyone who would buy music not heard on a clear channel radio station would probably be going to their local record store anyway. Have you ever attempted contacting a large corporate chain and asked them if there was a way to get your albums in their stores? Have you contacted iTunes Music Store? They may be willing to work on a solution for you.

"3. The Apple Music Store is awful. I don't much care for their exclusivity. An open system is still needed for artists to sell their tracks. Mp3.com cuts it close, but the quality is still too low for my standards, and you can't sell individual tracks."

By exclusivity, I assume you mean that an artist has to contact The Apple Music Store and negotiate with them instead of having a centralized place where anybody with a tape recorder can sell their stuff. If you're referring to the fact that only mainstream artists are listed, apple has stated that they are in talks with smaller independent labels to provide a better selection of independent artists. In anycase, I agree that an ideal system would provide extremely high quality files (perhaps a lossless digital format like FLAC or Shorten) and access to as many artists as possible. I think it would be an amazing and liberating feat to create a place from which anyone can sell their music, regardless of talent and marketability, but the logistics and costs of such an operation are simply too staggering right now. Besides, then you have a problem with sorting the absolute crap from the half-way decent. Perhaps in the future...

"4. People want CD's. Not everyone is still online, until you've got CD kiosks in stores, attached to something like emusic or the apple music store, it's not viable."

These services are not really intended to replace the CD distribution method right now. They may be the beginning of it, but they are most definitely not the end result. It is still an untested market. You may, however, find it interesting learn that there have already been rumors of Apple providing kiosks in their retail stores for the sole purpose of buying music from the iTunes Music Store. Give them time, and you may see that the quality will increase and distribution methods may expand.

"5. I'm sick of mainstream artists being "hip" (todd whatshisface) and going online with their music. This revolution isn't about what's already mainstream going online."

The reason the press makes such a big deal about a major label recording artists releasing their file online is simply due to the fact that they already have access to a proven distribution method that works, a large marketing department, and are gernerally well-known. They have no need to offer their music online, bt do so anyway because they see the advantages of the format. Compare that to an independent artist who is not signed, and does not have the ability to press CDs and get them into stores. The only real option for them to get their music out is the internet and word of mouth. So the mainstream artists does it when they do not have to while the independent artist does so out of necessity.

"6. Kind of along the same lines as point 5, what people don't realize is that nearly ALL the music they listen to is prefabricated crap. Your Linkin Parks and Korns of the world are just as fake as your Backsync Britney's. There's a good 10 years to go in the revolution before the RIAA big 5 can no longer fabricate not-very-original music acts and the people have finally won."

I find it intersting that you feel the need to criticize mainstream artists in this post. I agree with you that much of what is produced today is manufactured crap from people who are tone-deaf, can't read music, can't play instruments, or even write their own songs. However, I feel that you should be careful about who you decide to cite as unoriginal, prefabricated artists. Just because you don't like them or there are other artists who copied their sound does not make them so. There actually some artists represented by the major labels that deserve to be called artists and do write and play their own stuff. Do i like everything they put out and consider them completely original? Of course not, but I do respect the fact that they are established musicians and have the right to record whatever they want. I highly doubt that you and the entire selection of artists represented by your record label have each created a new genre and style of music. I also doubt that you have dones so without hearing and being inspired by other artists. So again, I simply ask that you be careful about how you criticize other artists who have mainstream record deals.

A true artists understands that music is about anything and everything. For some, it's a very personal and cathartic endeavor where they write to express themselves. For others, it's about producing something so technical and challenging that they are always pushing the limits. Finally, there are those who just do it for the money, the girls, the fun, or simply because they like to entertain. For someone who is preaching for a place where everyone can distribute music, you seem to have forgotten this.

2003-05-24 17:05:44
I don't work for a publisher, but I have a few thoughts...
Personally, I think the biggest problem here is the record companies themselves. The entire industry is so out of control with their "version" of business, they are basically the second hollywood. If record companies were created to promote artists and their works, today's record companies are there for only one thing - to make money...and what the consumers are telling the record companies in an indirect way is that their products stink...and we are not going to shell $17.99 to $20 for a CD with maybe one or two good songs in them. And at $20 a CD, consumers will only part with their money for something worthwhile, the rest, they'll just download it because it's definitely not worth $20. In a way, that's why the iTune Music store is such a hit - because at 99 cents, it's a good deal for many of the one hit wonders that's on right now, and there are lots and lots of them.

Why do the products stink? It's because the products is manufactured by the record company's marketing department - not by the artists themselves. It's like non-dairy cream or hollywood's big budget movie - it's not bad, but it doesn't get good either. Yet, because the product is manufactured to target a specific group, it needs to be marketed so the group can respond to the product. To do that, record companies will spend millions for something that's a one hit wonders - because, rather than nurture a potential artist and see it grow and eventually rip the financial rewards for the investment, the record company wants its investment returned with interests now! So, they spend millions to push the product to get their rewards now. The fact that this new artist has no real talent or substaining power is not relevant in the world of business. So, when people start downloading music, that cut into the record companies profit margin - mind you, not of the established artists (because a) they are cash cow - you can put out a CD by an establish artist with the minimalist amount of promotion and it'll still sell at least hundred of thousands of CD because of the fan base and b) the record companies have made back it's cost multiple times over with CD, remastered CD, restored, remastered CD, greatest hits CD, compilation of greatest hits CD, movie rights, and so on and so fourth) but of that new artist it is promoting because they want their money now. Of course, to make their case, the record companies will have to drag in all the established artists whose earning are partly from those royalty checks. This is the only way to make the case legitimate. Yet at the same time, the record company knows that these established artists are not the major cost of business - whether their next CD is a hit or a flop. Ironically, these establish aritsts are the one who are most concerns about music piracy because some of them really live off their royalty checks....but for those marketing darling of the day - well, they don't really care because they got their cut of the money already.

If artists really worried about getting rip off - what they really should do is band together and start an Internet record company that sell directly to the consumer - say, at 99 cents a pop for their songs and bypassing the recording companies all together. Why use a middleman who main function is to suck you dry and use the money to promote some not very talented artist because the marketing department said this is going to be the next best thing for the next 4 days? In a way, who really needs a record company to do the promotion and the distribution when the means to promote and distribute the product is already there and well established. Just deal directly with the fan!! And with loyal fan - they'll buy it no matter what...plus, what's better way to know whether you should retire, get better or keep going than with direct feedback from the wallets of the fans?

2003-05-24 17:09:47
This musician loves file sharing
Record companies do have something to fear from file sharing! The number one fear is money. When a record company spend a few millions to promote something the marketing department indicate to be the next big thing, they want their money now. They want to hype the next big thing so much that people will be suckered into buying the product before realizing that it sucks. With file sharing (and if one actually look at the statistic of songs downloaded), I think you'll find that out of the entire CD of the next big thing, maybe only 1 song is worth the while. The rest are junks. But they already spend millions on this already - somebody got to pay!

That sorta bring up the second thing record companies fear - that consumers finally realized that the record companies have been putting out junk for the past ten years and suckering people to buy them at $20 a pop. They don't really want consumers to know that they have been ripped off...yet, somehow, I think the consumers are noticing it - that's why the number of piracy is going up and up - not because everyone like to get something for nothing, but because what's out there suck, big time.

2003-05-24 17:20:04
Goods, not service
I totally agree - cut out the middle man. Start an Internet record company and signed as many established artists possible. I bet, it is possible to have a profitable record company and a bigger royalty check for the artists than what the record company can offer. After all, the promotion and distribution channels are there and well established. The Apple iTune Music store proved that at the right price, people will buy - and I bet, if Apple can cut out the middlemen and deal directly with the artists, the cost to produce, distribute and promote a song is cheap - that means both the company and the aritst can have a bigger share of the profit.
2003-05-24 17:28:44
Musician Comment
Hear hear! I agree wholeheartedly. I too am a musician, and tho I don't rely on sales for my income I can understand the fear of piracy reducing revenues, but must reiterate the above posters mention of the fear of avoiding obscurity in comparison.

The 21st century is bringing new pathways to both obscurity (where no one either buys or pirates your music), and to popularity (where people both buy and pirate your music). The only thing that has changed is the number of options towards those two destinations, not the number of destinations itself nor the fact that some people buy and some people steal.

2003-05-24 17:31:39
Musician Comment
did my text post?
2003-05-25 09:37:14
Is radio illegal?
I was reading that it's not allowed to stream music without autorization in the article "Hackers bite Apple in its iTunes"(i post a part of the article on the bottom). Is it illegal to stream music in radio? I mean here that streaming over the internet is the same as streaming music in radio. No? Is radio station has some privilege over internet radio? Oh by the way, musician send their cd to radio station for them to stream (marketing reason) them but when it's on the internet it's different. Two kind of justice.

i post a part of the article.

Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that seeks to defend users' digital rights, said: "Both streaming and downloading can present infringement issues [assuming you are sharing the songs without authorization], since you are both reproducing and performing the songs."

2003-05-25 09:53:43
From a musician
I just wanted to point out that it sounds like the interest in this message lies more in the area of having a great paying music career than making the music because they love it. Life is usually a zero-sum game where everything is a bit of give and take. My Father worked a blue collar job where he put in several 12 hour shifts and in the end he retired with cancer from asbestos. Did he love his job? No. Did it put food on our table and help get two kids through college? Yes. The point is that not many people get to do what they love for a living. So, either we work to survive and do what we love as a side item, or we do what we love and accept the consequences (usally low pay). That's life, and we all make our own choices on it.
2003-05-25 12:38:32
I work for a publisher too, some thoughts
derrick wrote:

" If one of those students copies his copy and gives it to a friend, I'm still not going to lose sleep. if he distributes a thousand copies, I'm going to wonder what the heck he's doing, and hope that my name and the book title is somewhere on those copies"

There are laws that protect us (consumers) from making a copy or two of a song and giving it to a friend. This is because the record companies know that this kind of 'word of mouth' marketing is good. But if we make a song available on a gnutella network for millions to 'share', it is just plain egregious - the same as if that guy who is printing a thousand copies of your book. If I were a musician who had struggled and finally got a contract with a lael (large or small), I would be fuming if people were skirting around the legit channels to get my music - who wants them as fans?! Most acts can't make 'a decent living' without the help of a label. If we think that the artists are being treated unfairly and without proper respect, we should vote with our wallets and not purchase the product. But we should never steal the music. Like it or not the record company owns the copyright and we should respect that.


2003-05-25 12:44:39
Is radio illegal?
anonymous wrote:

"I mean here that streaming over the internet is the same as streaming music in radio. No? Is radio station has some privilege over internet radio?"

radio stations (in the U.S.) pay royalties to labels/artists (I'm not sure of the exact procedure) when a song is played. internet 'radio' stations have to also although there has been much controversy about this with regard to CARP rulings. not sure of the outcome, though.

2003-05-25 18:01:48
A Musician's opinion
It is hard to be brief on this, but I'll give it a try:

(1) Even if writing, arranging and recording a song didn't cost a lot of somebody's time and money (which it does!), people forget that a song is the *private property* of it's composer and that a recording is the *private property* of whomever paid for it. I might choose to just share *some* of my music freely (which I do in my home page), but that is *my* choice. Your buying one of my CDs does not give you the right over this choice. It is still *my music*, *my choice*. You can still choose not to buy my CD if you don't agree. This is clearly stated in the CD's case and label, and it is true.

(2) People yell at the "Industry" as the bad guys. Granted, there's plenty of bad guys in the Industry and there's plenty of unjust deals with musicians, etc. It was, however, *the Industry* who promoted that particular song that you're searching for right now, it was the Industry that made you hear that song in the first place, it is the Industry that'll put the bucks to bring you new music, to make you hear it (for good or for bad! ... there's so much crap in the radio these days!!). When piracy flourishes (yes! it *is* piracy!!), the artists get ripped off and the industry weakens. The less money the Industry has, the less money it'll be likely to have to risk in new artists (ask ANY new artist looking for a record deal!). That's it: there'll just be fewer and fewer new music around as time goes by.

(3) I keep hearing the argument that "CD's are just too expensive". Regardless of whether this is true or not, the point is completely missed: I don't have enough money to buy a Ferrari because it's too expensive (for my pocket, not for what the car is worth!): does that make it ok for me to steal it? Does somebody steal a programmer's source code with the argument that it is too expensive? Is it ok for somebody not to pay a lawyer's fees, after receiving his services, because they're too expensive? Do I go to *your business* and just take some of the goods you sell and not pay for them because I think they're too expensive?

Make no mistake: it *is* piracy, it *is* stealing a property and, besides not being fair to us music makers who have the right to reap from our efforts, it *will* render the Industry powerless to bring new artists and new music to your CD players in the not too distant future.

Just my $0.2

Riccardo Perotti

2003-05-25 18:15:28
Is radio illegal?
You might not be aware that when a radio station plays a song, they have to pay performance royalties to just about everybody who was involved with it's making (songwriters, performers, producers, etc.). The paychecks from these royalties are *very* important items in a songwriter's budget.