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[P]
The End of Music?

By The Baptist Death Ray in Culture
Mon May 01, 2000 at 02:50:26 AM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)
Music

Sites like Slashdot and Kuro5hin have had a lot of information about online music these days. We've heard from the big-time superstar artists, we've heard from the RIAA, we've heard from Napster, we've heard from MP3.com, we've heard from the EFF, and we've heard from the people who download music online. Now it's time to hear from the Baptist Death Ray, an unknown musician who is trying to embrace the Internet as a distribution medium, but has a lot of questions... and has problems with some of the answers he's recieved. (This article was taken from my own discussion board, GodNotCountry, and was written for people who didn't necessarily know a lot about Linux... so you'll find parts of it needlessly simplistic).


If you haven't heard of Linux, you're not paying much attention to the world of computers these days. That's not an insult -- paying attention to the world of computers requires learning about computers and how they work, which can be a painful process that many people will lives outside of the world of silicon and glass prefer not to go through. Linux is, essentially, an operating system built on a revolutionary concept -- that software should be accessible to the people who use it. In other words, if a program you're using doesn't do what you want it to do, you should be able to modify it and make it do what you want it to do, without being sued by the company that made the program in the first place. It's actually more complicated than that, but you didn't come to this site to read about computers. I hope.

It turns out there's a significant market for giving away software for "free." A lot of Linux companies have appeared in the last year or so, some have become darlings in the stock market. Linux companies often give away their software for free (or sell it really cheap compared to other OS markets) and charge for their technical expertise when things don't work right, or when someone who isn't a programmer needs it modified in some way.

Linux users, by the way, are also on the whole very fond of MP3s and the MP3 world. If you look at Slashdot.org, a Linux web site with the motto "News For Nerds -- Stuff that Matters" you'll find that they regularly post news about the goings on of MP3.com, the latest idiocies commited by the RIAA, and other online music news. While they haven't yet posted anything I've sent them, I have hopes that someday they'll learn there's much more to online music than MP3.com. We'll see.

Linux users, also by the way, are pretty strong in their beliefs... and a lot of them believe in the idea of free music, in much the same way that they believe in free software. In other words, the thought is "if I buy a song, it's mine to do with as I please." That's oversimplifying and not all fo them hold that belief, but it's a very noticeable movement. There has been a lot of talk (and work) on music distribution licenses that mirror the GNU General Public License (GPL), which is the most popular license that software is distributed under in the Linux world.

As for me, I'm not exclusively a Linux user. Many of my fellow artists actually know of me as "that crazy punk rock bastard who's always going on about OS/2." However, I do use Linux, and I'm a Free Software supporter (for those of you in the know, I favor Free Software over Open Source Software, for those of you not in the know, it's not important at the moment). And when I think about music on the internet, I understand what the free music movement is saying, and I agree with a lot of it.

But then I get concerned, because if that happens, it'll be even harder for a musician to make a living in this world. Oh, artists like Sting will still be able to own 500 houses on the Riviera. But the small-time, up-and-coming artists who are trying to break into the business won't ever be able to support themselves. You'll either be a superstar or a nobody with nothing in between.

Why is this? Because if music is free, the only ways to really support yourself is through playing live shows and selling t-shirts, posters, buttons, bumperstickers, etc. Like the Linux software companies, you'll have to sell "services" instead of your actual product -- your product turns into the draw, the peripherals turn into the revenue.

Ok musicians, a show of hands... how profitable are your live gigs? How easy is it to get live gigs these days? You electronica artists, how practical is it for you to gig with $20,000 worth of 40 ton equipment to lug around? So we're supposed to make our living through selling merchandise? You're willing to pay $18 to get out of buying a $8 CD? Huh.

Here is the problem: programmers can write free software and still make a living, because people who can't program still need to hire people who can. People who can't make music don't need to hire musicians, they just need to find music to listen to. Which, under this proposed system, will be free. So then musicians need to find other ways to capitalize on thier music.

The other problem is that it will lead to musicians having even less power over their careers than they already have. Musicians habitually sign most of their rights away to record labels... but they have them. As of this moment, theoretically, no megacorporation that I despise can use my music in a commercial unless they have my permission. That's a measure of control I have over how I want my career to go -- if I don't want to sell out, I don't have to.

On the other hand, using a free music model musicians might very well need to sell out. Corporate sponsored music! That's right, not only will there be Baptist Death Ray posters, t-shirts, windjackets, buttons, and bumperstickers, there will be the Baptist Death Ray branded adidas, Baptist Death Ray shaving lotion, and Baptist Death Ray the Fragrance for Men.

Or, companies might choose not to pay the Baptist Death Ray anyting at all use Broken Again as the theme music for the Huffy's tire and muffler commercial. Won't that be wonderful?

This concerns me. It concerns me because, intellectually and emotionally, I agree with a lot -- most -- of what the "free music" people assert. However, I don't see a sustainable alternative market for musicians... certainly not on the scale that there is for programmers. And I see a great danger that musicians will be reduced to nothing more than people who write music and get nothing at all in return for it. Some have even said that the era of the professional musician is over! We'll all have to stick to making music in our bedrooms part time. (Hey, that's what I do now! I'm trying to leave that level and move up a notch on the ladder!)

But I already distribute my music for free, so what do I care? Yes, I do. I also sell a CD at MP3.com. I'd like to think that if people like my music enough they'll buy the CD and help me out a bit. I'd like to think that there could actually be a market for that. But that assumes that people listening to the music will know that there's a difference between me willingly releasing my music and someone else "doing it for me." And it assumes that the listening public will acknowledge that as the author of the music, I can legitimately claim it as mine and make decisions about how it is used. But that might be wrong. I don't know.

So I want advice. I want assistance. I want to know how, if I were to try to make a living in a free music model, I would do it. As a matter of fact, if someone can tell me, explicitly, how it would work, I'll try to do it. I'll even champion it. I see the parallells between free software and free music, I just don't see how far down the parallells go. Help me out here...

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The End of Music? | 57 comments (57 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Well, I'm finding I have a lot to s... (1.00 / 1) (#4)
by analog on Sun Apr 30, 2000 at 11:58:30 PM EST

analog voted 1 on this story.

Well, I'm finding I have a lot to say about this, but a hard time knowing where to start, so go ahead and post this puppy and let's get the discussion going.

Re: Well, I'm finding I have a lot to s... (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by analog on Mon May 01, 2000 at 04:46:40 AM EST

Get one thing clear up front; music is not analogous to source code, and all the screaming you hear about it on Slashdot won't make it so. I suppose a recorded song can be thought of in terms of a binary program; I get it in some medium, and I play it back the way it exists in that medium.

For a program, if I have the source code, I can modify it, fix parts I don't like, create derivative programs, what have you. For music? If I want to participate in analagous activities, I must already know how to play an instrument. If I know how to play an instrument, all I need is to hear it to be able to do these things. Whether or not I have to pay for it makes no difference to my ability to hear it. In a very real sense, music is already open source. So right off the bat, we find this to be true; those who trade MP3s by the gigabyte are interested primarily in free beer, not free speech.

What about the benefits of giving away your work? For source code, my program can be debugged, features can be added, I can tackle a project that would normally be too large for me. For music? All I do is deprive myself of a revenue stream. I gain nothing in return. Again, what it comes down to is that the people crying for 'free music' are basically just asking for a free ride. Nothing more.

What's wrong with commercial music today isn't the fault of artists wanting to be paid for their work; it's the fault of large corporations making themselves the gatekeepers of what gets published. The internet indeed has the potential to change that, but only in that it will make it possible for artists to publish (and be paid) without signing their souls over to said corps; not by not getting paid at all.

[ Parent ]

Music: binary vs. source forms and more (none / 0) (#47)
by zotz on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:32:34 PM EST

For music? If I want to participate in analagous activities, I must already know how to play an instrument. If I know how to play an instrument, all I need is to hear it to be able to do these things. Whether or not I have to pay for it makes no difference to my ability to hear it. In a very real sense, music is already open source. So right off the bat, we find this to be true; those who trade MP3s by the gigabyte are interested primarily in free beer, not free speech.

This may be true as things stand now, but it is not necessarily true. If midi or some other digital music source format could produce better quality (sounding) music, would you make the same claim? I don't play an instrument, but I could still fool around with the music. Say drop in a piano in place of the organ and see what I get. More?

I live in a place where no radio station plays music that I like on a regular basis. When I lived in Miami, it was different. The music stores carry no selection of the music that I like. Now, with net access, I listen to music more often again.

What about the benefits of giving away your work? For source code, my program can be debugged, features can be added, I can tackle a project that would normally be too large for me. For music? All I do is deprive myself of a revenue stream. I gain nothing in return. Again, what it comes down to is that the people crying for 'free music' are basically just asking for a free ride. Nothing more.

This is because you a providing your music in 'binary form' instead of 'source form' and so it is much too hard for people to modify. Perhaps you did not get that ending quite right and someone can fix it for you!


zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~

bslug.org
[ Parent ]

Perhaps this is where music and programming deviat (none / 0) (#51)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Tue May 02, 2000 at 12:02:47 AM EST

If someone were to fix an ending in my song, I would no longer consider it my song... it would essentially be a cover song or a remix.

I guess it depends on the musician, but I look at every song I do as something I actively created, warts and all. I may not be happy with the result (and may decide to do it again) but it is still the act of me creating something.

Someone changing the music after the fact -- unless it's a willing collaboration -- would turn it into something I wouldn't consider my work, just something based on my work. That wouldn't necessarily bother me, mind you... but if someone told me "I fixed your song for you" I'd respond, "No, you covered my song and played it better than I did."

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Re: Perhaps this is where music and programming de (none / 0) (#53)
by zotz on Tue May 02, 2000 at 08:20:44 AM EST

Well, now we get back to 'source' vs. 'binary' - you are talking binary, and I am talking source.

Say they leave your binary alone, fix up the source and release their own binary. You like their fixed source and it gives you some ideas for further fixes. You make them and release your own updated binary. And so it goes.

This happens in software but not so much that I can tell in music as from what I can see, we don't have as good/simple ways to release source as well as binary.

I think what I am talking about in your words is unintended, but wanted, collaboration.


zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~

bslug.org
[ Parent ]

It's an interesting idea. But... (none / 0) (#54)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Tue May 02, 2000 at 11:30:16 AM EST

...I don't know enough music theory to write out music notation for, say, "Pharisee" or "Molly's New Game." I know how to play my instruments, but I don't know how to communicate that information by any way other than demonstration. So it would be difficult for me to release anything other than a binary...

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

I know just what you mean... and more (none / 0) (#55)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 02, 2000 at 01:50:41 PM EST

I feel like I am in an even worse position. (I think I posted this somewhere above...)

I write words, I sometimes get ideas for tunes or parts of tunes in my head. I can't sing, hum, or play any instruments. Where do I go with that?

Do we need a free music site where people interested in free music can work with others who may have talents that dove tail with their own?

Say I post the words and an mp3 of my best efforts at singing any tune ideas I have. (This may take a bit of courage the way I sing, I have been paid to stop before!)

Someone else who can sing and play comes along and makes a complete song (audio recording.) Someone else puts it all on paper (these two could be in any order or together.)

I don't know of any existing software that would facilitate doing what I am talking about in the way I mean for it to be done. I saw an article years ago about recording music gestures rather than sounds as a possible way to greater music compression, but have not come upon the idea since.



[ Parent ]

Napster is dead. 4 months ago, it h... (4.50 / 2) (#6)
by Velian on Sun Apr 30, 2000 at 11:58:43 PM EST

Velian voted 1 on this story.

Napster is dead. 4 months ago, it had 400GB at all times. Now it has 1.5GB at any given time. Gnutella had 10 terabytes when I was on. It's better. Napster sucks. Sue Napster all you want. I don't care. Gnutella rules :)

Re: Napster is dead. 4 months ago, it h... (none / 0) (#11)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:02:23 AM EST

w/ gnutells i csn pull foen s fat 1.4k/sec. it really sucks. napster and clones (cutemx and scour exchange) do not have the traffic that gnutella has. actually, gnutella could be much faster if it took a cue from napster. instead of searches hitting every client, servers (clients with incoming connections) should maintain a database for their clients. whenver a client connects to a server a list of available files gets uploaded; this would reduce a lot of traffic, and allow us to pirate mp3s, porn, warez, and divx movies, much faster.

[ Parent ]
Re: Napster is dead. 4 months ago, it h... (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by Velian on Thu May 04, 2000 at 07:34:57 PM EST

The client has little to do with your rate.

But FWIW, I get 70-150KB/s from almost everyone I download from on Gnutella. Takes a couple tries to find a fast Napster user.

[ Parent ]

Re: Napster is dead. 4 months ago, it h... (none / 0) (#12)
by Zer0 on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:22:55 AM EST

I just logged on and it reported 2,081gig in 521,740 songs.

Theres a program called Napigator that you can use to force yourself onto a server of your choice.

Another program i havent seen mentioned is Scour Exchange, which allows to to download music videos as well as mp3s.

[ Parent ]
oops (none / 0) (#13)
by Zer0 on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:25:56 AM EST

Oops the guy above me mentioned it, sorry. :)

[ Parent ]
Re: Napster is dead. 4 months ago, it h... (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by Velian on Thu May 04, 2000 at 07:36:08 PM EST

2000GB?

I normally find about 8000-15000GB on Gnutella. Of course, it supports more than mp3s... but 1) It's truly open and free 2) It can't be sued and 3) I always find things easier on gnutella.

[ Parent ]

Re: Napster is dead. 4 months ago, it h... (none / 0) (#30)
by joeyo on Mon May 01, 2000 at 02:40:06 PM EST

Personally I'm a big fan of iMesh. It works like napster, but for many more file types. It supports partial files and also if a file can be found on more than one host, it will download from both at the same time to get more throughput. Apparently there are mac and unix versions on the way. Check it out.

Back on topic, gnutella is great too, but the spec as it exists right now is problematic. When you use a network as massively decentralized as gnutella you remember why it was that we used client-server in the first place. But I'm sure things will get better. The unix clone is getting pretty decent.

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

I don't really know what to say, bu... (1.00 / 1) (#3)
by evro on Mon May 01, 2000 at 12:12:00 AM EST

evro voted 1 on this story.

I don't really know what to say, but it's an interesting topic for discussion.
---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"

He's got a point there, Judge.... o... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by warpeightbot on Mon May 01, 2000 at 12:25:27 AM EST

warpeightbot voted 1 on this story.

He's got a point there, Judge.... one which needs thrashing out. I know the Dead went around for years, letting folks jack into their own sound system and make tapes, giving away the art for the sake of the gig and the 'Heads... I'm not real sure how they did it. The Indigo Girls were an Atlanta band for years, then they got big, and now they can't stuff them in the Fox, much less the Pub (which, of course, is no more).... I hate to think what Gaia Consort would do if they ever "got big".... (http://www.gaiaconsort.com shameless plug from a loyal fan) *sigh*

I was going to launch into some lon... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
by eann on Mon May 01, 2000 at 12:31:01 AM EST

eann voted 1 on this story.

I was going to launch into some long spiel about Stallman, Marx, and the reason socialism breaks down almost as easily in an information economy as it does in the traditional market economy, but I don't really know if that's the case or not. Marx' ideas are well over a century old, and they still haven't actually been disproven--there's just no substantial evidence that they'll ever hold up, either. I used to be such an optimist; I used to believe that human society would actually mature to a point where we could get over systemic greed and jealousy. Then I graduated from college and got a job.

I don't think music is worse off than it was 10 or 20 or likely 50 years ago. If anything, it's doing better, simply because there is more awareness of local bands and indie labels. The breakdown you're worried about is the same one the record companies say they're trying to prevent. And it's the same one they tried to prevent (by using the same arguments) when cassette tapes came out.

By even discussing this, it almost feels like we've bought into the RIAA's model of how the world works. That idea scares me. If that's all we can think of, then we're obviously missing something. Despite what Don McLean (and now Madonna) may have said, the rumours of music's death are greatly exaggerated. :)

The industry will adapt. But I think it's too early in the revolution (not televised, of course) to see where it's going. We have to trust that nothing so important for so long can be permanently destabilized. Maybe we'll get an advertisement-supported Napster or something (you can't download that song unless you've visited this web site). Maybe fossil fuels will get so expensive we can't afford the electricity to use our computers as jukeboxes any more. Maybe things will settle down, and the RIAA will realise that music is and has always been Free, and that (just like Stallman says) that doesn't mean it has to be free.

If I knew what was going to happen, I'd patent that "business process" and get stinking rich at Sony's expense.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.


"The Industry Will Adapt" (none / 0) (#14)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:32:21 AM EST

My problem with this is that while the industry might very well adapt, no-one is willing to offer any explanations of how. The prevailing thought is "do it and see what happens!"

There's a lot of fallout from big changes like that... and most of it will be focused on the non-famous musicians. Like I said, Sting sure isn't going to hurt when this happens, all he has to do is schedule a concert and he'll make millions of dollars. And Major Labels, despite what they claim, won't be hurt by this either, because people will buy their famous artists CDs in droves.

The people who will be hurt will be the little musicians. Potentially. At the moment, the "little musicians" are trying to use the internet to reach people they otherwise couldn't reach. This is all well and good, but if those people feel no compulsion to buy their music, then the internet is not a good place for the little musicians... instead they (we) need to focus on getting local gigs and forget the net entirely. No point in getting a fan in Ontario when you can't get a show in Louisiana.


The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Re: "The Industry Will Adapt" (none / 0) (#21)
by rusty on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:36:00 AM EST

My take on the whole big v. little debate is that there simply hasn't been a "killer app" of the mp3 world yet. Meaning, there hasn't been even one huge breakthrough success that has come directly from the online community, via mp3. There will be, and that event will change everything, and probably make at least one band fantastically rich. I also think that we're still dealing mainly with the world of people who only use online music as a convenience. The future punks of the world, now studying reading in second grade, will see the net as "where music comes from", and will be totally nonplussed about searching through the thousands of unknown MP3.com artists to find the one or three really good ones, and then they'll tell all their friends. It'll become a "who can find the next big hit" fad. The question is not if, but when this will happen, so it really is best to start planning now for how to take advantage of the new rules. I agree with (who?) someone else's recommendations in this discussion-- that musicians will need to lose the fear of "Selling out" and become marketers as well. Viral marketing really isn't that hard either, unless you truly suck. :-) You need to be sure that your MP3's are working for you, and that people will pass on your name to their friends.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Having to pay vs. wanting to pay (none / 0) (#44)
by zotz on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:58:35 PM EST

I think we often miss the difference between people having to pay and people wanting to pay. I wish we would figure out a way to simply let people who want to pay, pay.

This includes for music, software, art, humour, etc.

Once again, digital cash would be nice. A fill out form on your web site allowing those who want to send something in appreciation or as encouragement would be great.

Q: What is the best way to send small amounts to others? (For me, since I live in the Bahamas, that would mean internationally.)


zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~

bslug.org
[ Parent ]

The biggest problem with the internet (none / 0) (#50)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Mon May 01, 2000 at 11:21:35 PM EST

Is that the only really practical way to conduct business is via credit card.

One of the biggest criticisms of that MP3.com was weathering when I first arrived there (last April, it was quite different back then) was that they had no way of accepting checks or money orders. Not all music lovers use Visa, after all. MP3.com refused to set something up to take non-credit card orders, which should have tipped us off then... oh well.

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Re: The biggest problem with the internet - worse (none / 0) (#52)
by zotz on Tue May 02, 2000 at 08:13:28 AM EST

It is even worse when you are not in the U.S. From what I gather, here in t he Bahamas, our CC companies will not give us accounts that we can use to sell on the net. (Supposedly they are working on it.) U.S. cheques cost a bundle to process.

This takes me back to... We need Digital Cash on the net. But we don't have it, so what esle can we come up with?

Postal money orders? Money orders, cashiers cheques, credit cards, what?

This issue is holding me back a bit from some of the things I would like to do.

One of the biggest problems I see is that the lack of digital cash places a lower bound on the size of transactions possible (reasonable) in the digital marketplace.

I know we need to come up with some innovative way around this problem. Any ideas?


zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~

bslug.org
[ Parent ]

Re: I was going to launch into some lon... (none / 0) (#36)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 01, 2000 at 05:08:09 PM EST

and the RIAA will realise that music is and has always been Free, and that (just like Stallman says) that doesn't mean it has to be free.

Unfortunately, as with software, this means most people simply won't pay for it.

A market where artists must support themselves through crappy marketing stuff that's peripheral to their actual craft is pretty fucked up too. Why *shouldn't* they sell their music?

[ Parent ]

Re: I was going to launch into some lon... (none / 0) (#46)
by zotz on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:14:53 PM EST

Why *shouldn't* they sell their music?

A lot more goes into selling something than just making it. Physical goods even more so than non-physical goods. I make a few different tourist-novelty items. Making them is loads of fun. If only that was all it took.

Realistically, I have to go around and talk to people to see if they will carry the items. I have toa take the orders, I have to do the deliveries, I have to do the minor bookkeeping, make the deposits. In other words, the whole nine yards.

If an artist is willing to do all of that for himself, he can sell his music.

Then how to get heard outside of his hometown? Buy expensive advertising? Make MP3s available for download? Personally, I would choose MP3s.

Sell a CD, sell an autographed picture or sheet music. It is a whole package deal. People are already accustomed to listening to music for 'free' on the radio. They will still buy a worthwhile package.

I know you have to eat, if I like you music, I will be happy to cough up something.

How about allowing others with less than x times the average nati0nal income to make money from your music/work and ask that they make it worth your while? (For the sake of argument, make x=5 when they begin.) Further, ask that if they make y times the national income from your work that they share with you z%.

Give it a try with 25% of your songs and see what happens.

How about customising songs for a fee? Perhaps I would like a personalized version with the lyrics changed slightly. Would you be willing?


zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~

bslug.org
[ Parent ]

Stop going off on tangets and get t... (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by Commienst on Mon May 01, 2000 at 12:45:12 AM EST

Commienst voted -1 on this story.

Stop going off on tangets and get to your point.

Huh? So, people need to hire progra... (4.00 / 1) (#9)
by nicktamm on Mon May 01, 2000 at 01:03:43 AM EST

nicktamm voted 0 on this story.

Huh? So, people need to hire programmers to make changes to their programs, but they don't need to hire musicians to make music? Your argument works since there is currently *much* more variety in music than there is in programs. As time goes by however, and more and more free software is released, the programmer who is going to be hired to make changes to software is only going to be hired to do *very* specific changes. The same would be true if there were a free music market: musicians would still be hired to do specific music, such as ad jingles. I don't understand why programmers would be more in demand for custom work than musicians if both of the markets were equally generalised and large. Another thing I don't understand is the part about your songs being used in ads. Programmers who release software under the GPL have to face the possibility of companies releasing their software, making a profit off of it, and not re-imbursing the author in any way (not even giving anything back to the community which would benifit the author at least in some small way).

As to the rest of the story, it really should be at least slightly edited for posting on Kuro5hin (such as removing the explanation of Linux). I'm voting 0 because, while this is a good subject and will probably promote interesting discussion, it needs to be re-edited to fit Kuro5hin slightly more. Just copy-and-pasting a story written for another site isn't much better than merely linking to it. It isn't written with the readers of Kuro5hin in mind, and it reflects that in its general tone which I feel is detrimental to Kuro5hin's quality. Or something like that.
Nick Tamm nick-k5@echorequest.net http://www.nicktamm.org

Re: Huh? So, people need to hire progra... (none / 0) (#19)
by Commienst on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:48:48 AM EST

A programmer doing custom work for a company can not be compared to a musician doing ad jingles. That is bottom of the barrel for a musician. A programmer making a specific change to a open source program does not need to hold his low (read in disgrace) like the musician doing some petty jingle that merely needs to be catchy.

Music to me has to have some meaning to it. I hate literal music especially literal music that has no meaning. Jingles are the only thing even worse than hip hop and pop music when it comes to having no meaning.

[ Parent ]

Great article! Hits a lot of impor... (none / 0) (#10)
by MoxFulder on Mon May 01, 2000 at 01:12:03 AM EST

MoxFulder voted 1 on this story.

Great article! Hits a lot of important points about MP3 and the ability of artists to make money! I hope that lots of people, like me, buy the CDs of bands which they get to know through MP3. I think I'll go check out Baptist Death Ray ...

"If good things lasted forever, would we realize how special they are?"
--Calvin and Hobbes


Well, I think you will find that mo... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
by mattc on Mon May 01, 2000 at 01:12:23 AM EST

mattc voted 1 on this story.

Well, I think you will find that most GPL/BSD programmers also do something computer-related as their day job. This allows them to pay the bills. Their day job might be something as mindless as Visual Basic programming, data entry, or creating web sites for insurance companies.

At the end of another worthless day of work they want to do something enjoyable and intelligent, so they hack away on their latest Free Software project. Maybe they will make some money on this project (Red Hat), but more likely they will never make a dime. They do it because they want to really use their skills. Because computers are their hobby. Because it is fun.

The equivalent of this in the music community would be to for someone to do their work professionally-- illegal to copy, formulaic pop music, expensive CDs, etc. to pay the bills. This kind of music is easy to digest for the corporate-indoctrinated masses and sells well.

However, when they get home they can really be a musician. Do the experimental stuff, and the stuff they really care about, saying what they think. Give it away for free. This is their hobby; this is what they do because they want to.

Real quality rarely sells in this society. Someone may become a billionaire because of a good work, but more likely it will be ignored. At best they can hope for a fringe group of fans to pick up on their software/music. Maybe in a few decades someone will recognize the creator for his or her idea... or a Microsoft will copy it and claim they invented it.

Cynically, mattc.

"Real Quality Rarely Sells" (none / 0) (#15)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:38:04 AM EST

A lot of us would disagree...

... the problem with "real quality" in music isn't that it doesn't sell, it's that labels don't know how to market it. Real quality music requires that you know specifically what your audience is and how to go after it. It's a smaller group than the general market (most of the time, I mean there are a few pop singers who are pretty good).

Labels are real effective at blanketing an area with PR, when they want to, but that's overkill for the smaller markets, and you lose money because of it.

With the internet, however, that changes. Even if your audience is scattered in small pockets all over the world, if that audience has access to the net you don't have a bunch of small audiences, you have one medium sized or even one reasonably large sized audience! The Internet is almost perfect for more specialized kinds of music...

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Yip. (none / 0) (#37)
by jetpack on Mon May 01, 2000 at 05:39:23 PM EST

At the end of another worthless day of work they want to do something enjoyable and intelligent, so they hack away on their latest Free Software project. Maybe they will make some money on this project (Red Hat), but more likely they will never make a dime. They do it because they want to really use their skills. Because computers are their hobby. Because it is fun.

I can't think of a single musician I know or have known that didnt have some kind of day job. Whether the "other" job was in the music business or not, they all have/had work that fed/clothed/housed them. And if you are a talented musician (particularly if you can read scores), the work can be quite varied. Teaching, studio gigs, soundtrack and pit work for local productions, etc.

Then at night and on the weekends, they do their own thing.

I suspect that the biggest complaint "smaller" musicians have about this whole mp3 business, is that it may cut off their chance to Make It Big, rather than just make a living. The playing field may be leveled to the point that they can't win the big jackpot that current rock/pop/whatever stars occasionally manage.

But, let's face it. The chances of that happening even now are so small that it's not really worth worrying about. Survey your local big city, and see how many musicians have played the local circuits and compare that number to the number of "stars" that have come out of that city. I suspect upon seeing those statistics, most musicians who are bitter because they havent hit the bigtime yet, will be even more depressed.

That's fine by me. I rather like the idea that the music world might become more like the current linux community. A whole whack of folks that are just doing it and sharing their music cuz they enjoy it, instead of whining that it isn't making them any money.

It might have been interesting had I wound up a big Rock Star, but I'm sure I'll never have that chance.

OTOH, I spend my free time learning new things about *nix, or fiddling around with some new programming language, or banging on my guitar, or thrashing my drum kit, or whatever. And I'm not particularly worried if anybody ever hears the stuff either. I'm having a pretty good time with it, anyway.

But I'm kinda old :)


--
/* The beatings will continue until morale improves */
[ Parent ]

But having a day job != making a living (none / 0) (#38)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Mon May 01, 2000 at 06:10:41 PM EST

If you have to work a day job to support yourself, you're not making a living at music. I'm not making a living at music... a lot of local bands and small bands aren't making a living at music.

I don't quite understand the impression that a lot of people have that it's "bad" for musicians to want to make money off of what they do. It's work just like everything else, and yes I personally want people to listen to and enjoy my music... but recording music isn't cheap, even if you do it out of your home. Linux programmers have the GNU compiler, but the stuff you use to make music -- for the most part -- is hardware driven. Higher barrier of entry. Expensive hobby.

And yes, there are people who want to make it big. Actually, most musicians probably won't object to making it big. It takes a certain kind of mindset, personality and arrogance to be able to get on a stage and perform and not feel like an idiot. At the same time, though there are a lot of us who won't be terribly put out if we don't -- we'd prefer just to be able to support ourselves doing it.

Why not? Writers get paid doing what they do, don't they? What makes us different?

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Re: But having a day job != making a living (none / 0) (#43)
by jetpack on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:52:30 PM EST

If you have to work a day job to support yourself, you're not making a living at music. I'm not making a living at music... a lot of local bands and small bands aren't making a living at music.

My point was more that you *can* make a living making music, but either [a] you probably need a couple different gigs in the biz at the same time or [b] you stick to playing in one band, tough it out while not making much money, and wait for your ship to (maybe) come in. I think [a] is the better bet.

I don't quite understand the impression that a lot of people have that it's "bad" for musicians to want to make money off of what they do.

I have no problem with that at all; that was what I was saying. I wish I could have made a decent living playing music. However, the musicians I know that make a decent living off music don't just stick to one gig. They play whatever gigs they can get their hands on, and do their own thing on the side.

but recording music isn't cheap, even if you do it out of your home

Sure, but a decent little studio isnt all that expensive either. Even better if there is enough of a community to share gear. Hell, the band I was in backinnaday used to record our stuff at the local university by offering our time to students taking recording classes (we did the playing, they did the recording/mixing/mastering). You'd be suprised at the ways you can cut corners.

Which, actually, isnt so different from some of the programming community. These days, I can pretty much buy whatever gear I feel like (within reason), but when i was about 14, and vic-20s were the hip thing (eek!), my dad had a TI-994A, a friend had a vic-20, and another friend had an apple. We'd wander around to each other's houses to learn stuff about each of those machines. None of us would have been able to afford all three of those machines, but we got to learn about all of them anyway.

Why not? Writers get paid doing what they do, don't they? What makes us different?

Nothing really. But most writers are not making money off books. They usually have something on the side as well, be it teaching, writing newspaper columns, or something completely unrelated. Basically, they do a bunch of sucky jobs until they get to the point where they can support themselves by just writing books (I assume that's what you were refering to), if that day ever even comes.

Which incidentally, goes back to the post that originated this thread. Plenty of programmers do lame jobs to make cash while they perfect that "killer app" they've been working on in the basement.

And, most if the stories I can think of about musicians that finally got to the point where they could just sell records and tour, and not do anything else, either did really lame gigs while working on their main gig, or just did nothing other than their main gig, and just put up with the starvation :)

Anyhow, going back to napster et al, I don't see the future for the average musician is really much bleaker than it is without napster et al. It's possible that the day of the super-ultra-high-payed celebrity is coming to a close (somehow I rather doubt that), but people will always want to hear live bands, and movies will always need soundtracks, and theatre will always need scores. I seriously doubt the last day that musicians will be able to subsist off their music is nigh. It ain't dead yet.

However, I certainly do think tomorrow will be quite different. Trading of mp3s over the net (with or without napster) is unlikely to stop. The new age of music is probably here whether you like it or not :)


--
/* The beatings will continue until morale improves */
[ Parent ]

Craftsmen and more (none / 0) (#49)
by zotz on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:45:31 PM EST

Coders, writers, singers, musicians, lyric writers, song writers, arrangers, sculptors, photographers, weavers, artists, poets, etc.

How many people support themselves working in each field? How many people make it big in each field?

Do stats exist anywhere?


zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~

bslug.org
[ Parent ]

This is one of those things that re... (none / 0) (#1)
by Nyarlathotep on Mon May 01, 2000 at 01:55:53 AM EST

Nyarlathotep voted 1 on this story.

This is one of those things that requires experementation. I would look at what the current online bands (like sunscream and negitivland) are doing. I would also look at what people like Pete Abrams of Sluggy Freelance have done to make money. That having been said I think I do have a few intelegent things to say on this matter:

1) mp3s are a great promotional system, but people need to get the mp3s for them to lissen to you. I'd say you need to set up some scripts to upload your shit to pirate sites and push you shit on people in IRC. There might be a way to push you shit on people through Napster too, but I don't know how it would work.

2) Ok, people DL you mp3 and like it, but people *must* be able to find you from your mp3s and they must have a reason to find you. I think you should add a blurb (voice) into the tail of the song like "This is the Babtist Dealth Ray comming at you from http://babtistdeathray.com. Come get more free shit."

3) You will probable have a web site which distributes mp3s and gets people to buy shit. It's good to distribute stuf regularly (and often) to keep people comming back (say a mix of the week). People feal much more attached to someone whose website they feal the need to check out frequently. 4) You need both promotional material (as discussed in points 1,2 and 3) and material you sell. This can be the same material if there is some sort of significant value add. Example: you do a mix of the week, but you only show the past 3 weeks and some other really popular stuff. All this stuff includes a verbal blurb (ala point 2). You can sell "fan club access" for 5-30 dollars a year which allows people to DL any of the past suff (old mixes of the week) without the anoying verbal web site plug. The shit without the verbal plug will get pirated, but you have scripts which upload the versions with the web site plug all ovet the fucking place, so it will be hard for the small time pirates to find it when they go looking.
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!

Re: This is one of those things that re... (none / 0) (#16)
by FlinkDelDinky on Mon May 01, 2000 at 04:14:42 AM EST

Before I read your post I was a bit more sympathetic the BDR's plight. But your response makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately it's placing a great burden on the artist (not hackers, marketers, salesmen, etc.). Now, if they want to support themselves with their art they have to be expert practitioners of a whole variety of completely unrelated skills.

I've always favored that an individual control their IP as they wish. Personally, I don't think the mp3 distributors are hurting the big or little guys. The little guys were always starving and the big ones always feast.

Nobody is usung gnapster to grab BDR mp3's, they're all going after whoever the big hit is at the time. And because so many people chase the hit it probably increases the concert population in the tour cities.

If I were into the concert scene (which I'm not), free mp3 distribution would be critical for me. It's friday night, I want to go to a concert, BDR's playing my favorite club. Who's BDR? I grab one of their mp3's (maybe my favorite club distributes them from their web page) and decide if I want to go see the one and only BDR. Otherwise, I simply won't go, cause I'm a cheap bastard.

Still, BDR is in a hard place. It's his IP to do with as he wills. I suspect free mp3 helps more than hurts.

BTW, free mp3 doesn't neccessarilly gpl mp3. It could mean I can grab it and play it for personal use, I can't modify it, or use it in another product (free or commercial). That way, when MS wants to use your song to sell their OS they still got to pay you. Nor can I use your music in my free product to make myself famus

It's late and I can't tell if I'm still spelling right. Goodnight.

[ Parent ]

Re: This is one of those things that re... (none / 0) (#20)
by Nyarlathotep on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:13:56 AM EST

free mp3 doesn't neccessarilly gpl mp3. It could mean I can grab it and play it for personal use, I can't modify it, or use it in another product (free or commercial). Yes, BDR needs to distribute the mp3s under a lissen which forbids people from modifing his songs. Specifically, they can not add their own advertisments or remove teh blurb which tells people where his web site lives.
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Re: The End of Music? (none / 0) (#18)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:47:42 AM EST

I think Mr. Baptist Death Ray asks some good questions, but I think he knows most of his own answers and just doesn't like them.

Let's take the idea of 'selling out.' If an musical artist takes money from a corporate sponsor or does music for hire they are selling out; but a code artist is expected to do this to make a living. What Mr. Death Ray seems to be most upset about is that this paradigm shift (from BDR's point of view) might require that professional musicians do work that they don't like in order to afford to do work that they do like. Wah. Welcome to the real world.

Even if all music were free, a large portion of people would still buy disks of some sort or another for the liner notes, artwork, etc. Every 'unknown' band that I know that has posted mp3's on the internet has seen an increase in sales of their cd's. I think that most people are willing to pay monry to support artists they like (to a certain extent). In the software world, look at the number of people that buy a cheap *nix cd from linux system labs or linux mall and tack on a $5 or $10 donation to the FSF or some other organization. I think a good many people are willing to do the equivalent in music and plunk down for a disk with liner notes and artwork, etc.

If a band can't make money from gigs and merchandising, that band is never going to make money. I've been in a band before (not for long, we played one gig and broke up due to personality conflicts). Many, many of my friends are in bands or have been in bands. Anyone that takes a band seriously will tell you, touring is where the money is. Sure in bigger cities like NY or LA, it might be hard for a band to play out without paying someone, but in the rest of the country, there is much money to be had. Of course a large part of the income from touring comes from merchandising, but that leads into my next point.

With the advent of cheap cd-burners, high quality printers, inexpensive DTP software, (relatively-speaking) cheap high quality production gear, artists can self-produce virtually any product from disks to shirts by themselves at a fraction of the cost of what it used to before the infotech revolution. One of my favorite artists just came through town, selling 'promo' copies of his new album, sans artwork, on mitsumi brand cd-r's. At less than a buck a pop in quantities, their is a very nice margin. Not to mention shirts, prints, and paintings (this particular musician is also a painter that sells his paintings and prints of his paintings at his shows).

My favorite part of the new world of 'free' music is that the internet has leveled a playing the playing field. For what is a very minimal investment, anyone can set up their own internet radio station, or distribute mp3's, or a web store for merchandise and reach a world wide audience. This brings in vast potential. It used to be that only mega-artists had that kind of world wide reach. Now anyone with $10-$50 a month can put up a decent commercial page and process credit card orders from anywhere in the world.

We are no longer restricted to only consuming what the powers that be at Sony, Virgin, et al would shove down our throats, because the good bands, the previously unknown, creative bands that have gotten for the most part overlooked now have world-wide distribution power to equal the Michael Jackson's and Metallica's of the world. And these new artists for the most part don't sue their fans.

Just my two cents....



"Welcome to the Real World" (none / 0) (#23)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Mon May 01, 2000 at 10:14:31 AM EST

"Let's take the idea of 'selling out.' If an musical artist takes money from a corporate sponsor or does music for hire they are selling out; but a code artist is expected to do this to make a living. What Mr. Death Ray seems to be most upset about is that this paradigm shift (from BDR's point of view) might require that professional musicians do work that they don't like in order to afford to do work that they do like. Wah. Welcome to the real world."

Man, where do I start?

Ok. First, "What Mr. Death Ray seems to be most upset about is that this paradigm shift (from BDR's point of view) might require tha professional musicians do work that they don't like in order to afford to do work that they do like. Wah. Welcome to the real world."

Mr. Malatesta, my problem isn't that the world is filled with unpleasantries. I have a day job that I work in order to do what I want to do. I know the routine. My problem is that such a model runs against every single promising thing that the internet holds for the independent musician.

The promise of the internet is that the artist should be able to bypass all that corporate sponsorship crap. Being signed to a label is essentially corporate sponsorship today -- and they're part of the problem! The point of the internet is that it allows independent artists, underground artists to reach more potential fans, scattered though they may be, so that they don't have to depend on whether or not some kind of corporation feels they're worthy enough to get a few crumbs.

So why, if that's supposed to be the promise, should we be happy about being told that no, the promise of the internet is that ultimately we get to go through the same old shit?

What is the difference between, say RCA sponsoring the Baptist Death Ray and Adidas sponsoring the Baptist Death Ray? Not a damn thing. All that happens under that model is that corporations that have had absolutley no experience whatsoever with music suddenly become the purse strings in the industry.

There is a movement of online artists who are trying to legitimate get at least some of that power back... to try and bypass labels and sponsors and create a market that is predominantly fueled by an interaction between artists and their audiences... but that requires that there be a market for music. You say it yourself later that the enternet is supposed to level the playing field -- but if we presuppose that corporate sponsorship is what will drive the new music economy, it doesn't level the playing field at all -- it's the same horse with a different jockey.

Let me be clear: I'm not opposed to people distributing MP3s. I'm not opposed to the ideas behind "free music." I am, however, incredulous with the overly simplistic ideas that people come up with to explain how an artist will be able to make a living. "I guess you'll need to keep your day job" is at least the most honest answer I've heard, but the sad truth is it's not practical. At some point, for a band to succeed, you need to quit your day job and devote your full time to it. Full time means at least 12 hours a day, no overtime, no benefits.

"If a band can't make money from gigs and merchandising, that band is never going to make money." That's because labels a) inflate the cost of an album and b) take a ridiculous share of the proceeds. I have a CD on MP3.com that sells for $8... MP3.com gets half of the proceeds, I get half of the proceeds. If 15,000 people bought that CD I'd make more in a year from that than I would my day job as a tech writer. 15,000 is such a ridiculously small number in the world of "units sold" in terms of the music business. For the price of 15,000 CDs the playing field would be leveled, and would be leveled fast. Of course, that requires that you convince people that you're worth buying, which is a different story alltogether.

"With the advent of cheap cd-burners, high quality printers, inexpensive DTP software, (relatively-speaking) cheap high quality production gear, artists can self-produce virtually any product from disks to shirts by themselves at a fraction of the cost of what it used to before the infotech revolution."

I think we have differing viewpoints on what constitutes "cheap" :)... yes a CD-Burner can be purchased for $300, but if you're trying to mass produce CDs in order to sell them as music you don't want one of those. No, those things cost thousands of dollars when they're cheap. A friend of mine just bought one in order to start a business. It's not the kind of thing you can just put on your list along with guitar strings, picks, and a new gig bag.

But you're right -- it's a lot easier for an artist to market him or herself... But it still takes a fair amount of capital, and, again, time.

Apparently in the new model of the music economy, artists won't be able to take days off, get married, go on dates, or play with their pets -- they'll be too busy working their day job, playing music at night, and creating their tshirts when they should be sleeping...

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Re: "Welcome to the Real World" (none / 0) (#29)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon May 01, 2000 at 01:24:46 PM EST

Excerpts from the mighty baptist death ray are taken out of order to fit my whimsy.

Let me be clear: I'm not opposed to people distributing MP3s. I'm not opposed to the ideas behind "free music." I am, however, incredulous with the overly simplistic ideas that people come up with to explain how an artist will be able to make a living. "I guess you'll need to keep your day job" is at least the most honest answer I've heard, but the sad truth is it's not practical. At some point, for a band to succeed, you need to quit your day job and devote your full time to it. Full time means at least 12 hours a day, no overtime, no benefits.

My question is: why should attempting to make a successfull band be qualitatively different than any other business venture? I have many friends with successful band projects. They work three to four hours a day, five or six days a week, take extended leave of absences from their jobs, go touring, and bring in enough cash and enjoy the work enough to make it worth their while.

Mr. Malatesta, my problem isn't that the world is filled with unpleasantries. I have a day job that I work in order to do what I want to do. I know the routine. My problem is that such a model runs against every single promising thing that the internet holds for the independent musician.

The music business is not different than any other business. Returns are comparable to the amount of blood, sweat and tears put into it. What the internet brings to the mix, is not the reduction of labor, but the removal of large obstacles. A modest amount of money brings access to a target audience almost uncomprehensably larger than was available prior to the i-net boom. Back in the day, you had to be wealthy or signed by a major label to even hope to reach that number of people. Now, you only have to be skilled at guerilla marketing.

Apparently in the new model of the music economy, artists won't be able to take days off, get married, go on dates, or play with their pets -- they'll be too busy working their day job, playing music at night, and creating their tshirts when they should be sleeping...

Like I said, welcome to the real world. You only get as much out of a project as you put in. It all depends on the drive, the skill (in music, marketing, and business sense), and the effort of the people trying to make a go out of the band. Starting a band (assumming one wants it to go somewhere) is no different than starting any other businesses.

I started a coffeehouse once (and failed miserably). I went to some free counseling for starting a small business. The first question my counselor asked me was: how do you feel about working for free? That's what it takes to turn a hobby into a business.

The promise of the internet is that the artist should be able to bypass all that corporate sponsorship crap. Being signed to a label is essentially corporate sponsorship today -- and they're part of the problem! The point of the internet is that it allows independent artists, underground artists to reach more potential fans, scattered though they may be, so that they don't have to depend on whether or not some kind of corporation feels they're worthy enough to get a few crumbs.

So why, if that's supposed to be the promise, should we be happy about being told that no, the promise of the internet is that ultimately we get to go through the same old shit?

Its not the SOS. It can be. A band can certainly choose to sell out. And I see nothing wrong with that (depending on the goals of the people in the band).

What the internet brings to the mix of an economy of scale previously available ONLY to bands with big money corporate backing.

"If a band can't make money from gigs and merchandising, that band is never going to make money."

That's because labels a) inflate the cost of an album and b) take a ridiculous share of the proceeds. I have a CD on MP3.com that sells for $8... MP3.com gets half of the proceeds, I get half of the proceeds. If 15,000 people bought that CD I'd make more in a year from that than I would my day job as a tech writer. 15,000 is such a ridiculously small number in the world of "units sold" in terms of the music business. For the price of 15,000 CDs the playing field would be leveled, and would be leveled fast. Of course, that requires that you convince people that you're worth buying, which is a different story alltogether.

This is an excellent example of how the internet helps to level the playing field. The chances of selling 15,000 disks is far greater when the independant band can sell worldwide over the internet than when the only venues are the merchandise table in back of the pub and mail order from fliers passed out at shows.

"With the advent of cheap cd-burners, high quality printers, inexpensive DTP software, (relatively-speaking) cheap high quality production gear, artists can self-produce virtually any product from disks to shirts by themselves at a fraction of the cost of what it used to before the infotech revolution."

I think we have differing viewpoints on what constitutes "cheap" :)... yes a CD-Burner can be purchased for $300, but if you're trying to mass produce CDs in order to sell them as music you don't want one of those. No, those things cost thousands of dollars when they're cheap. A friend of mine just bought one in order to start a business. It's not the kind of thing you can just put on your list along with guitar strings, picks, and a new gig bag.

You are correct, but its much easier (and cheaper) for a garage band to buy an el cheapo cd burner, and burn a few hundreds of disks to sell to help amass the capital to have a few thousand disks made in a factory, than it is for most bands to drum tens of thousands of dollars to invest in the making of a disk to start out with.

I didn't mean to imply that a band could 'make it big' on a dinky, one at a time cd-burner, but it lowers the point of entry, and as such, helps level the playing field. Not all that long ago, a band had to pay thousands of dollars to see their work on a few hundred cd's. Now a few hundred disks can be made with almost pocket change.

But you're right -- it's a lot easier for an artist to market him or herself... But it still takes a fair amount of capital, and, again, time.

Just as any business. But at least now, the average joe or jill rocker can afford to try and make or break his or her self in a realistic fashion, which was possible in the old days, but virtually impossible. Now, its merely improbable and that improbability comes more from most folks having no clue about how to run a business, then from lack of opportunity.

I honestly wish you the best. Don't get disillusioned because its a lot of work. It IS a lot of work, which is why most local bands just stay local.



[ Parent ]
Digital Cash (none / 0) (#39)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:41:48 PM EST

I have said this before, and I think it fits here:

We need Digital Cash, especially digital coins. Anonymous digital cash. There needs to be low friction.

I have downloaded some stuff from mp3.com that I would be happy to send a buck or two to the artist. I want to be able to give it anonymously if I so choose. I don't want to see most of it eaten up in transaction costs.

I think we should make it free, as in gpl free. Include links to the words, links to a midi version, links to a sheet music version (could be midi, but midi version may be optomised for digital playing while sheet music version might be optomised for printing out and playing.) Include links to pictures of artist, etc., etc.

I write words, I get ideas for music sometimes, but I can't sing, hum, or play an instrument. I need to find someone who writes music to work with. I am willing to GPL my work. I think we have not begun to try all the different innovative things we can think up to earn money this way. I have hopes that if we keep trying, we will hit on something.

If you want to use some digital pictures for you work, try out freetings.com. While there, check out the link to hassle free free software and the link to the SLIP which also has a link to DyDNS.

It says the pictures can only be used in G rated derivatives, but I have long since changed my mind but not gotten around to changing the site. I now ask that you only use my work in G rated derivatives, but make no such legal requirements on you. I don't want to be your nanny or policeman.

all the best,

drew

zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~

[ Parent ]

Oops (none / 0) (#41)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:44:35 PM EST

Sorry about the double posting, the preview showing as zotz, but the posting going as AH caught me off guard.

drew

[ Parent ]

Digital Cash (none / 0) (#40)
by zotz on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:42:22 PM EST

I have said this before, and I think it fits here:

We need Digital Cash, especially digital coins. Anonymous digital cash. There needs to be low friction.

I have downloaded some stuff from mp3.com that I would be happy to send a buck or two to the artist. I want to be able to give it anonymously if I so choose. I don't want to see most of it eaten up in transaction costs.

I think we should make it free, as in gpl free. Include links to the words, links to a midi version, links to a sheet music version (could be midi, but midi version may be optomised for digital playing while sheet music version might be optomised for printing out and playing.) Include links to pictures of artist, etc., etc.

I write words, I get ideas for music sometimes, but I can't sing, hum, or play an instrument. I need to find someone who writes music to work with. I am willing to GPL my work. I think we have not begun to try all the different innovative things we can think up to earn money this way. I have hopes that if we keep trying, we will hit on something.

If you want to use some digital pictures for you work, try out freetings.com. While there, check out the link to hassle free free software and the link to the SLIP which also has a link to DyDNS.

It says the pictures can only be used in G rated derivatives, but I have long since changed my mind but not gotten around to changing the site. I now ask that you only use my work in G rated derivatives, but make no such legal requirements on you. I don't want to be your nanny or policeman.

all the best,

drew

zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~
zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~

bslug.org
[ Parent ]

By the way (none / 0) (#25)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Mon May 01, 2000 at 11:03:41 AM EST

are you in any way related to Errico Malatesta, the Italian anarchist? I tried not to ask, but I have to know. :)

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Errico Malatesta (none / 0) (#28)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon May 01, 2000 at 12:53:09 PM EST

I'm not AFAIK, related to Errico. I'd like to think I am. Probably at some distant point in the past we shared some ancestor. Its not like Malatesta is a widely spread last name (even in Italy its no that prevalent).

[ Parent ]
Re: The End of Music? (none / 0) (#35)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 01, 2000 at 05:00:42 PM EST

might require that professional musicians do work that they don't like in order to afford to do work that they do like. Wah. Welcome to the real world.

except paying someone else to do what you cannot is pretty standard practice in "the real world".

[ Parent ]

Re: The End of Music? (none / 0) (#22)
by maskatron on Mon May 01, 2000 at 09:37:52 AM EST

bdr! i remember you from the early days at mp3.com. anyway, in regard to your concerns about free music, i think there are some key differences between free software and free music. free software makes the most sense for some applications (specifically crypto/security related) because of the trust factor. namely, if it isn't open to peer review, then it isn't secure, if you know what i mean. on the other hand, free music is just that - free. let's look at this from an economic perspective. the big labels are trying to preserve their business model. this is a broken business model now because music can be copied and distributed so easily. the margins on CDs can't be supported anymore. that being said, people are actively stealing music that belongs to these big labels. this is wrong, and there's no moral grounds for doing so. any justification for this is just cognitive dissonance. because you don't like the way they do business doesn't give you the right to steal from them. if people really feel that way, they should STOP LISTENING. there are two scenarios that might happen. one - micropayments become feasible. if it is easy for people to buy a song for 25cents, they will. i think most people don't want to steal from artist, unless that's the easiest alternative. two - the labels will give way to services that charge a subscription fee for music for their artists. and if neither of these take off, you're right, you won't be able to make enough to live as a musician because the market won't support it.

maskatron curvedspace.org

I own no paraphenallia (sp?) (none / 0) (#24)
by mahlen on Mon May 01, 2000 at 10:56:17 AM EST

I can honestly say that own not one piece of clothing, not one keychain, no posters and no colorful bedspeads related to any band, film, or author. Proclaiming the fact that i like, say Paul Oakenfold or AK1200 or Jeff Noon or "Romeo Must Die" seems uninteresting to me. So the "new model" that MP3 fans speak of would not get one thin dime from me, and I can totally sympathize with musicians and those who support and are supported by them. If some tech came along that made my earnings drop by %50, I wouldn't be all that thrilled either.

On the other hand, i do own 400-500 CD's (and I'm old enough to actually own records and tapes as well) and 30 boxes of books. I express my enjoyment of music by buying and listening to music, not by buying T-shirts. I couldn't possibly own enough T-shirts for all those bands anyway.

So why haven't I jumped on the MP3 bandwagon? Simply because the audio quality is not there. I'm certainly no audiophile (hell, my San Francisco apartment's so cramped that my left speaker is on top the right one), but the quality of even 192Kbs MP3's just isn't high enough; if i compare side-by-side to a CD, i can definitely hear the difference. Plus, computers tend to emit a lot of noise internally.

I find amusing the oft-heard refrain that "someday MP3's will create a break-out artist and make them well-off, and then people will stop complaining". For all we know, there is some track that is popular all around the world among everyone who knows what an MP3, attached to hundreds of "you've gotta hear this!" emails. That artist may be immensely popular, but she/he hasn't made any money off of that talent, because the music has already been distributed.

While some claim that MP3's are needed because the current distribution model sucks, I haven't really heard any alternatives being shouted from the rooftops, and the single as a distribution method has largely ceased to exist (I'm guessing due to lack of sales). No, MP3 fans, while claiming to be a revolution, really want things to stay the way they are; music at no cost to them. Not a sympathy-inducing position.

mahlen

The two most important tools an architect has are the eraser in the drawing room and the sledge hammer on the construction site. --Frank Lloyd Wright

Re: The End of Music? (none / 0) (#26)
by gleef on Mon May 01, 2000 at 11:22:24 AM EST

Hmm, some interesting questions and concerns.  First off, from my vantage
point, no matter what happens the days of the kind of professional musician
you're talking about are already dead.	If you go the Record Company route, you
can either make a few pennies which are eaten up before you ever see them by
"promotional advances" and other hidden charges. Or, if you're pretty and lucky
enough, you can get elevated to superstar status for all of two years and then
thrown into the dustbin.  

If you go the Free Music route, you need to work actively for every cent you
make, getting gigs that barely break even so you can sell CD's and T-shirts, or
making agreements with companies like MP3.com to help you distribute them (for
a small cut, of course).  The thing is, I don't see any sustainable middle
ground, so struggling artists are going to remain struggling artists no matter
if the RIAA gets its way or not.

My advice, and I'm not in the music industry at all, so take it for what it's
worth, is the following.  It's too late to worry about whether or not you like
the Free Music movement, the movement isn't perfect, but it's got some pretty
heavy momentum behind it, I doubt it will go away anytime soon.  It's time to
worry about how best to cope with it, and perhaps find that you might be better
off with it than the other choices. 

One thing that you have to remember is that it's very hard to get people to pay
for old information, and it will get harder as time goes on.  A particular
recording is essentially information.  You can get people to pay for new
information if it's novel enough, but that's not reliable enough to pay the
rent.  On the other hand, it's "easy" to get people to pay for goods and
services.  Think deeply about what is it about music that you enjoy, and how
you can turn it into somthing marketable without hating it. 

If you enjoy playing live, focus on that, and try to coax the venues into
paying you better (easier said than done, but you might offer to be paid by
headcount, and help with the advertising).  Also, make sure there's plenty of
good and appropriate merchandise available (be creative, you could have more
than just CD's and T-Shirts).  Make sure the CD is more than just a recording;
have info, lyrics, good art or photography, stuff to make sure it's something
worth having even if your fans have all your MP3's.

If you hate leaving the studio, set up a really good website and distribute
things that way.  Also, you could try to break into markets where there are
people who will always pay for good custom music, films and video games come
quickly to mind. 

This isn't the path to superstardom, but if you develop a good following, and
produce new stuff often, you could probably make enough to quit your day job.


Screw the record Company (none / 0) (#27)
by Commienst on Mon May 01, 2000 at 12:23:19 PM EST

How about you sign with a record company (if you can) then let them do some promoting release and album or two. The record contract will probably say something about you not being able to record for another label but they probably will not have a clause in preventing you from releasing all of your new songs as mp3s off the internet for free. Then you can use concert money to earn your living. That way you use the record company for their promotional services and screw them in the end.

Re: The End of Music? (4.50 / 2) (#31)
by farlukar on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:14:59 PM EST

It's remarkable that all majors are against MP3 and a lot of indies are really happy with mp3.com and napster/gnutella. Majors are against because they'll only make a few million $ on their top acts instead of a few billion zillion. Independents are pro-mp3 for the sheer publicity power. I make music myself. Because I like it, not because I want to make money (would still be a nice side-effect,though:) and even though I have loads of copied tapes/CDs, if I really like a piece of music I buy it. Music has been around for ages, it's just the last 50 years that it's economically profitable. Just the fact that the profit will be somewhat less won't mean The End Of Music As We Know It.
______________________
$ make install not war

Many indies are against MP3.com AND the labels (none / 0) (#32)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:19:11 PM EST

But that's a topic for another post. :-)

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Well alright... (none / 0) (#33)
by farlukar on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:59:39 PM EST

I don't know what I would do if I'd be running a record label and saw all my acts being heavily copied from mp3.com. But... there's a but to everything. I've bought some CDs which I've probably woudn't if I'd not already heard some .MP3 (or .RA) of it. You talk about 8$ CDs - I live in the Netherlands, and a new CD round here costs about 17-20$ (yes really) and still I am prepared to pay for that - and I suppose I'm not the only one.
______________________
$ make install not war

[ Parent ]
That's not why some indies dislike MP3.com (none / 0) (#34)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Mon May 01, 2000 at 04:09:25 PM EST

I'm not talking Indie labels, necessarily, I'm talking indie musicians.

When MP3.com was first getting off the ground, they made a lot of noise about the internet being a revolution for indie/underground artists -- how it would let them bypass the labels and get themselves heard. MP3.com talked a lot about how important indie artists were, and indie artists put their music there.

That's how MP3.com got where it is today. INdie and underground artists used their site.

As soon as MP3.com went public, however, all their revolutionary zeal sort of deflated. And a lot of artists got pissed and felt like they'd been had -- because MP3.com had legitimately made some comments that made it sound like their site did a lot more for you than it actually did. So there are indie artists who feel like they were taken for a ride by MP3.com...

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Taken for a ride (none / 0) (#42)
by zotz on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:50:49 PM EST

Ouch,

can't they pull out now though? I know that doesn't necessarily help, but isn't that in the contract?

What is to stop indie artists from forming a co-op to run an mp3.com like site for themselves?


zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~

bslug.org
[ Parent ]

Nothing is stopping them (none / 0) (#45)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:02:24 PM EST

And, indeed, many have. AMP3.com is one example, though in the end it fell apart. Listensmart.com is another. But the point is that many artists are pissed because MP3.com said a lot of stuff in the begginning that they apprarently didn't mean. Kinda like "Oh I really Love you" and "of course I'll call you in the morning." :-)

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Re: Nothing is stopping them (none / 0) (#48)
by zotz on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:35:41 PM EST

I understand, and that is never nice, but at least if you choose to pull out of mp3.com, you do not have to be the artist formerly know as Baptist Death Ray.


zotz forever! ~~~the raggeded~~~

bslug.org
[ Parent ]

The End of Music? | 57 comments (57 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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