back to article Billy Bragg: Why should songwriters starve so others get rich?

Why should songwriters starve so that the Web 2.0 kids and tech VCs get rich? Billy Bragg asked the question recently, and the downloaders and VCs quickly shot back - it's because you should be grateful that we're here! "Recorded music is nothing but marketing material to drive awareness of an artist," fumed Michael Arrington, …

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Tom
Silver badge

'Help big business to cut us in'??

Billy,

You dont need big business any more. You want to sell me music we can do it over the internet. The only need for 'big business' is to get my money to you.

I dont see anyone else need be involved.

Oh - other than lawyers who will sue you for not being big business!

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Gold badge

Music is everywhere

Newspapers give away free CDs, music is in the background of TV programmes more and more now.

Labels give away free downloads (never used to get much in the way for free, maybe on a cover tape on a magazine).

Music is cheaper to produce than ever and it is being further cheapened by it being given away.

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Stop

Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!!

Can these people please stop with the stupid retort that stealing music is like stealing stuff from your house?

NO IT IS NOT! THE ANALOGY IS SO WRONG!!!

You steal something physical, then it is gone. An empty space is left. You no longer can use that, sell it, or anything with it.

You "steal" online music, its a copy; period. You are still left with the original item, you are still able to do something with it.

A better analogy, which isn't nearly as headline grabbing would be:

- Break into my house and take a photograph of everything and leave; not touching or removing a single item

*or closer*

- taking a photo of me, and then using that elsewhere or selling it without my permission.

Thats the difference.

Read the Lessig's book on copyright law and you'll get a whole new perspective on this.

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Flame

There is a simple answer to his concerns

Just release his material under one of the CC Non commercial licences and a full blown one to anybody else. Make you money from other people making money and allow viral sharing to create you a market.

On the other hand what does he consider making a living because i'm fairly sure he is making far more than what the rest of the country calls a living.

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Boffin

Stealing is a closer analogy than photography

Of course the "copyright is theft" analogy isn't correct, but neither is it consequence-free.

If you take a copy of something for free, instead of paying for that copy - and you could have afforded it - then you deprive the owner of a sale. It's not really that hard a concept to grasp.

The difficulty is determining how many sales there would have been if free downloading wasn't possible. One side counts every free copy as a lost sale, while the other side counts none of them as lost sales. Neither is right.

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@"Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!! "

I always think of it as a recursive thing. If it's fine to take music for free, who pays for it? Noone. How does it continue? I just don't get it.

@ "Websites that bring that music to listeners are doing artists a favour. In fact, they’re doing them a favour that they should (and will) be paid for."

What are those websites without music? Nothing. What is music without those websites? Well, music's been around for a few years now...

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Thumb Down

Some things may have changed but

Didn't the Beatles flog their nuts off for years in local venues, and long hard stints in Hamburg, before they had a hit record? No doubt countless other groups too. Love in L.A., Bob Seger in Detroit. Springsteen's superb concerts.

Talent will out, give a good performance locally and build on that.

It's a model that works, Billy.

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Music is not fodder; music is not publicity

As A.C. says, copyright theft is not like ripping off someone's TV from their house. Writing songs, writing books and poems, painting or making an art video, creates more than just a thing. Copyright came about because it was thought that 'ideas' 'words' 'tunes' weren't able to be stolen, only copied, but that this was still a loss.

To lose ownership of one's creations negates and cuts into your creativity.

In my personal ife, I am a novelist and writer. I had one of my online 'how to write' columns blatantly plagarised by another (and more well known) writer on her own website. The damage was just not passing off my work as hers, but a visceral blow, a loss of myself, in a way that is hard to describe. I can only offer to the world my creativity for their delight (I hope) and I don't do this selflessly: I want to be credited, and I would really like to be paid for it. You pay the baker to feed your body, but a musician (and a writer and a poet and an artist) feeds the soul. Just because the tune is an intangible doesn't mean the musician should enrich your life for nothing in return.

When I see website owners insisting that they are giving the musician publicity, I wonder why they think publicity is the musician's goal. The musician wants to be heard and to get a reward. It's not to be 'known' that they record, it's to get people to listen to their music.

But when your life is transformed, even if only for a while, by a magical song, why do you decide that the artist is willing to do this for free for you? That we live on your love alone? I know musicians and writers who were brilliant but crushed by the system. Their potential gifts to the world will now never be. The RIAA is not their friend, but VCs and website owners and those who want to diss The Man are not their friends either.

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Jobs Halo

This is between the artists and the labels

Part of the problem is that musicians sell their "intellectual property" to large evil corporations. Said evil corporations then screw up the marketing of product - trying to sell formats and products that punters don't want. (Case in point, I quite like the French artist Camille. She has a new single out according to her website. This morning I tried to buy it from the iTunes store and couldn't because it was only available in the French iTunes store. This isn't my fault, its between EMI and iTunes - and I suspect its down to EMI only licensing their precious acquired "intellectual property" for sale in France. They have just lost a completely free sale - no marketing required. Free money for more coke - I mean, candles and flowers!)

When artists do better deals with labels - or cut them out completely - then they will find a way to make money out of their fanbase. But please stop blaming the fans. Fans don't sit on artsits' back catalogues preventing fans from buying material - that's the labels and their precious "intellectual property". The long tail should be a massive opportunity for the music business - and they have borked it completely.

Except of course for labels like 4AD. I can go to the 4AD website and buy pretty much every release they ever made. If I can't buy the CD because its out of print, I can buy high quality digital downloads. With David Sylvian's Samadhisound, I can buy all of his new releases while cutting out the middle-man.

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Stop

Erm...

Can't watch the vids at work but...

"If the recording right disappears, he predicts, "we'll be spoonfed corporate stars that are designed to appeal to a mass audience. Someone who is a bit quirky - and by quirky, I mean a Radiohead - will never get out of Oxford.""

Doesn't he mean: that's what's been happening since the late '80s and now that the Internet's taking over all the quirky acts have a chance to reach their mainstream audience? Remember Radiohead didn't really become quirky until *after* they'd sold enough records not to care. "Creep" was a great song but quirky it wasn't.

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Happy

Billy, billy, billy,

It's just a new world order mate, like you sang about a while ago. If they're smart enough, song writers and artists will make the most of the new, cheaper publicity and distribution channels and only the music execs will suffer, at the expense of the web VCs.

Fans will always spend money, artists team with songwriters to promote and distribute their own work. Fair enough, they have to give away songs, but they do that anyway to get on radio playlists and the like. What you loose in song credits you will more than gain in cheaper, more competitive access to studios, cheaper distribution, better cut on merchandise and physical sales.

Not outraged today. Special place on my CD rack for BB

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Gav
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Re:There is a simple answer to his concerns

"Make you money from other people making money"

And how do the "other people" make money, from other "other people"? If a musician is to earn a living making music, *someone* has to put their hand in their pocket and produce the money. Otherwise you just have a never ending chain of people hoping the next person in line will magic the readies out of thin air.

"i'm fairly sure he is making far more than what the rest of the country calls a living"

What makes you think that? No-one puts a thousand pounds in your pocket every week simply for being (relatively) famous. I have no idea what Billy Bragg earns, but it's probably less than you think.

Anyhow, your following the same self-serving logic used by many freeloaders. The "they're all rich anyway" argument. The point is; very few of them are rich, most are getting by much the same as anyone else. If you cheat them out of the way they earn a living, then they will stop trying to earn a living that way.

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Pirate

Why should songwriters starve so others get rich?

Quite simply they shouldn't but then I'm also of the opinion that the pre-packaged cr@p that gets churned out of reality tv shows and lip synched recording studios should be fleeced to the hilt, a kind of idiot tax for the people that buy the rubbish in the first place.

What we need is more artists ready to go out on a limb and become famous by bribing DJ's with curry!!!

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Boffin

Theft etc

I agree with 'Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!!'.

Besides which, copyright theft doesn't really exist in this case because all that is happening is distribution without license (site) and making a copy without paying for it (which is not theft but denial of profit).

These corporations have taken the position that the potential profits they could have made are in fact real and material things in the literal sense that have been stolen from their actual accounts.

Which is not only factually incorrect but is also hysterical.

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Bronze badge

@ Music is everywhere

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you'll find that these sources of Music or Film or whatever still pay for them, and the artists involved are still entitled to those royalties.

When labels give away music, and they do, it's as a loss leader to generate sales and interest, in fact, I remember NME, Rolling Stone, Melody Maker and others giving away tracks on a 7" cover single that would play a few times before being worn out. These vinyl singles were probably the thickness of a piece of paper, so if you liked what you heard, you went and bought it. Don't know about free tapes though they came along after I'd stopped reading NME. (1980 if you wondered).

Artists need to be paid for their work, and not all artists translate from albums to Wembley Stadium, why should we loose them, just because they use an easily copied media doesn't mean they should not be paid for their work.

If you want artwork you pay for it, copy or not, and the artist benefits, no one would suggest that an artist such as Damian Hirst shouldn't be paid for his embalmed livestock, so why shouldn't Billy, or any other Musician be paid for theirs.

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Freetards Feel OK

"Read the Lessig's book on copyright law and you'll get a whole new perspective on this."

Lessig is the Freetard Hero, and makes everyone feel OK about downloading.

Somehow I suspect Mr.Lessig never had to worry about having a job he hates, as Billy says.

@Mark Talbot

"Just release his material under one of the CC Non commercial licences and a full blown one to anybody else. Make you money from other people making money and allow viral sharing to create you a market."

Two incompatible licenses? No can do. A CC license is irrevocable, so you must make one choice for all time.

Seems like Freetards have totally lost the ability to think.

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Free stuff is nice, yes - but not if the seller isn't giving it away

> You "steal" online music, its a copy; period. You are still left with the original item, you are still able to do something with it.

The one thing I am no longer able to do is to sell it to you. You have reduced my potential market by one, an odd thing to do given you seemed to like the song enough to download it.

It's not about physical copies, it's about business opportunity cost.

If you're a MySpace wannabee, then having your music heard for free won't affect you, because you'll still have your day job to allow you to enjoy your hobby.

But if the only way that you and your family get fed is by the money you make from selling your music, then this opportunity cost means that (a) You get to dance naked in the shower whistling along out of tune to a song you like but never created (b) the artist gets to sit hungry in a cold, damp house for another hour/day/week. Or thereabouts. Like everyone else, they need money to live.

You list a number of analogies, which all describe a different situation.

It's about fair exchange. How about if you like the music, you buy some beer and takeaways, then bring them round the artists house to feed his/her family, without charging him/her? Or paint their house? Or fill their car up with a tankful of petrol?

I can see how that would be a swap, not theft. Otherwise, I cant see why taking an artists product without paying is not theft.

I'm with the artists on this one; my day job is to write computer code, where a similar thing applies. Nice to give it away if you want to. But it's my right to decide whether I give it away, or whether I charge. And your right to decide if its worth buying.

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The crux is..

Art is only as valuable as the amount of money people are willing to pay for it.

Many traditional fine art artist were never rich it was only long after their death that the value of their pieces shot up. And it can be argued that this traditional art is more worthy as it is a one off original and anything else is a copy and so not worth much. Music on the other hand is all a copy so why expect it to be worth all that much.

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Silver badge
Flame

@ Gilleain Torrance

You have fallen into a false dichotomy phallacy, by assuming that the downloader has only two options: get the music for free or pay for it. In fact there is a third: do without it altogether. I suspect that many people, if they couldn't get the music for free, would choose this third option.

If the downloader would have exercised this option if prevented from obtaining music for free, then that download does *not* represent a lost sale.

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@"Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!! "

Would the analogy not be more like staying in a hotel but leaving without paying,

You haven't stole the room, you have taken nothing tangable but the hotel still had to be built and paid for.

Music is more like a servise than a commodity

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Flame

@Gilleain Torrance

"If you take a copy of something for free, instead of paying for that copy - and you could have afforded it - then you deprive the owner of a sale."

But the argument being made is that prerecorded music is an advertisment for the real thing - the live performance. And thats not even getting into your assumption that every downloaded song is a deprived sale. I routinely download music that has been suggested to me by friends, to see if I do infact like it. If it's good, I'll generally go out and buy the album on CD. If it sucks, it sits in my iTunes library gathering dust.

Personally, I think that more and more, people (like my mum and dad) are downloading music "guilt free" not because they are robbing faceless corporations, but because the sense of entitlement that stems from many "artists" is completley out of align with thier respective talents. Let me explain:

There are two key factors that I think are providing normal, law abiding citizens to commit grand copyright theft. 1) "modern" composers insist on calling themselves "artists" when they clearly arn't and 2) the perversion of copyright law provides these artists the framework required to be repeatedly paid for work that has already been compensated for.

My mum doesnt feel guilty for downloading Westlifes back catalogue because Westlife are just a covers band. They are not artists, merely pretty karioke stars. There is no art in their work because they are not producing an original creative work. And secondly, Westlife made millions and millions from selling something they only had to produce once. My mum was not paid repeatedly for work she hald already been compensated for. She fails to see the argument as to why Westlife should too, especially when they are singing someone elses song. A similar act my mother also does when she potters about the house, singing to herself.

It doesnt help when you see artists like this bitching about lost sales and the hardships of having to decide on the interior of their Ferrari.

My parents replaced their entire music collection, at great expense, twice. Once from LP to tape, then from tape to CD. They are done buying music.

The wierd thing is, over the last 3 years, my parents have actually started to go to see more live music then they ever did before. They claim its because "it's the real thing, isn't it?"

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Anonymous Coward

Plastic Pop Groups

Its about time the Record Industry stopped producing Plastic Pop Groups and shows like The X Factor should stop their "talent" shows for 1 hit wonders and actually release music from artists that can play a proper instrument(s).

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Depriving of a sale

Not exactly; only if you would otherwise have bought it. As a consumer what I would like to see is the majority of music released by an artist under a CC license (as someone has already suggested), but perhaps only offered in a lossy (though high quality) format, and the option to buy (direct from the artist) a FLAC or CD version, and perhaps a few extra tracks that aren't available free. Add to that a facility to donate to the artist voluntarily and I would, on occasion, do that.

Funnily enough, as an (alleged) artist that's also what I'd like to see. I have a lot of respect for Billy Bragg but I have to say, why should I pay good money for a copy I made myself? When we were last in the studio recording, it cost a few hundred pounds. We all have day jobs. But the MP3s and OGGs will be covered by CC licenses; donations welcome, but we're happy just to break even on gigs and lose a bit of money on the recordings. It's early days yet - maybe with a couple of FLAC / CD (or even other merchandise, us capitalist scum) sales we'll break even on the recordings sometime too or even make a small profit.

Sure, we'd all love to give up our day jobs too, but who wouldn't? Most (or, well, I don't have the numbers, but many anyway) people have other, sometimes creative things they could otherwise be doing. But no matter how entertaining we can be with our musical instruments we're still, in reality, not getting actual work done that way. The nice thing about day jobs is they leave your evenings and weekends free so that you can express yourself, create art and make the world a culturally richer place. Do musicians dream of making a living making music? Sure. But I'm also a sleeper and if I could make a living doing that, it would be awesome.

The market decides the value of a product. When copies of recordings were hard to make it was easy to sell them. They aren't any more. The industry needs to grow up and realise mercantilist protectionism can't help them here. Artists need to grow up and realise that back when a huge industry could be sustained on the sales of recordings, there was more promotion, there were bigger stars; but all of that was artificial and built on the technical difficulty of copying recordings. Without that, is anyone doing anything that really adds that much value here?

We can pay for our own recordings, collect our own cut of ticket sales, try some online sales of recorded tracks. Distribution is dirt cheap, promotion is easy. If what we do is worth something we can get some money back for it. If not, there are tons of employers out there who have ideas for things you can spend time doing that's worth something to them. In short, get a day job. Whether you like it or not. It's what the rest of us do, and it's not so bad.

P.S.: I wasn't getting any actual work done while I wrote this rant, so you all have to chip in 50p for reading it. Anyway, that's lunch over - back to the day job.

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Anonymous Coward

well

Well the reason artists starve is mostly becouse they're stupid and lazy and not very good. This is why the "man" exists.

The "man" "lends" money to the "Artist" so that they can produce an "album" and "videos" and receive mangament and teams and such like. The "man" then charges huge interest on the "loan" and a tasty cut of profits.

Now the "Artist" lives with this coz all they need to worry about is "creating" bland carp for the "music" "audiance" to gorge on. He doesn't need to worry about bills coz the "man" looks after then, they don't need to worry about venues coz the "man" has them too.

Simply put the "artists" sacrificed themselves long ago, the "man" just capitalised on other peoples stupidity and laziness and probably their pride and greed too.

Now all the "man" is doing is figuring out how to make money another way and the "poor" lazy stupid "artists" are left out of pocket. The smart creative artists will however make it through though, as will the man.

Heart bleeds. No really it does.

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Flame

All our costs are belong to you

What a fantastic business model!

Imagine being in the car industry and being PAID to take raw materials of the suppliers hands!

I suppose the Web 2.0 vulture capitalists also expect their web-hosts to pay *them* for hosting, on the grounds that the web-hosts are offloading their surplus bandwidth.

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Boffin

Dual licensing...

CC no commercial use is perfectly compatible with the same material being licensed with a commercial use license...

give away the material free under the no commercial use license and if someone does want to make money with it (for instance as music for their film or commercial or perhaps to play in Discos for paying punters), then license it to them so that they can...

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Linux

I want my money back

Its a tricky one this.

In order to know if i like a song or not i have to listen to it. Where do i listen to this? The radio? the TV? or download?

If i buy it, and i don't like it, i want a full refund! The musicians don't seem to be keen on this model.

I download music. Yup. And I can hand on heart say, everyone that i downloaded for free, and liked, I have gone on and purchased the CD. Without the free "illiegal?" downloads, artists like Mika, Regina Spectra, Amy McDonald, Kate Nash, to name but a few would not be gracing my CD shelves at the moment.

Contrast this to the hundreds of crap albums i have on my shelves from the 80's and 90's where you had to risk buying the whole CD on the strength of a single song. I want my money back!

My sympathy for the musician -- does not run deep sorry. Its a changing landscape, we the punter are now in charge, and no more can you peddle your "Greatest Hits" albums making us buy the same tracks over and over again.

Give us quality and we will buy.

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Stop

It IS theft

To make the comparison that it's not "stealing" because there's no physical thing being stolen is a non starter. It's like pirating a video game by stealing the ROM image; you're not stealing it from a brick-and-mortar store, but you're still able to play the game and therefore don't need to buy it, and that's good enough for most of you. In other words, unless you can HONESTLY say - and 95% of downloaders can't - that you're going to purchase whatever it is that you download, then you have no high ground to stand on, and all you're doing by saying "lol it's not physical so it's not theft" is trying to rationalize what you're doing with some very flimsy technicalities.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not on the side of big business (they're bigger crooks than anyone), and support fully what Radiohead and Reznor are trying to do. But we're to the point where everyone is trying to take all the pie for themselves; no one wants to cut it up and share it. The artists want to maximize their money, the RIAA wants to maximize their money, the people that run these "distribution centres" want to start making money (which, last I checked, was reselling someone else's copyrighted work; they might be worse than the RIAA, because they're illegal to start with!), and the fans want all the music to themselves, and there's no middle ground. Everyone needs to find a middle ground here.

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Anonymous Coward

The rationalization of theft is amazing...

It's only a lost sale if i was planning to buy it and didn't...

Uh... a clepto doesn't plan on buying the things they steal.. but it's still theft.

It's not theft if there's no actual physical loss of the item...

Riiiight. Then it's ok if your boss decides to hold back the money for work you do each day? He's not taking any physical items, since it's money you never had in the first place.. so the loss of income is ok, right?

The recording industry keeps churning out crap.

They might... but if that's the case.. why download it even for free? If it's crap it's crap. They'd likely stop churning it out if it didn't sell.. and nobody even wanted to steal it. Thousands of free downloaders only encourages them to think that people want what they have to offer.

/sigh

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@ @ Music is everywhere

"If you want artwork you pay for it, copy or not, and the artist benefits, no one would suggest that an artist such as Damian Hirst shouldn't be paid for his embalmed livestock..."

I know many people who've said exactly that. Besides, he is not really an artist in this case, he simply commisioned some other people to cut a cow in half and then pickle it for him.

If that's art, my old biology lab was a museum.

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Anonymous Coward

@"Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!! "

Stop whining like a spoiled baby, then.

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Stop

re. Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!!

OK, try this one:

Your employer is unable to sell product, because someone copies their product and gives it away; because of this he is unable to continue and you're out of a job.

The same happens to all of the other companies in your industry so you can't get another job.

There are no new products developed in that industry, everyone has to make do with copies of the old stuff.

How about that?

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Stop

Actually stealing music is worse than breaking into your house

For those people who try to make out that stealing music isn't as bad as breaking into someone's house, think about this. If I break into your house and steal your TV, the insurance company that you've been paying money to for years pays for you to get a new one. You spend a week or two deprived of your TV, but then you get a shiny new upgrade to the TV and other than an invasion of privacy and a small insurance excess, you actually finish off better off than before.

If I steal your music, I am depriving you of income, of the means to live. Worse still, because I haven't taken a physical product, other people can also steal the same thing. Now, if 100 people steal a song selling for £1, that isn't £100 in lost revenue, its probably more like £1 in lost revenue since a lot of those people wouldn't have bought the track if they couldn't steal it. But when a million people steal the track it's now a big issue, that's more like £10k in lost revenue. And a lot more people than that are stealing music.

It is important to see why it's a big issue though. Remember, most professional artists do not make much money, Billy Bragg is in a middle ground I suspect, comfortably well off, but not rich. But a hell of a lot of reasonably successful musicians aren't making that much money. Think of a band that spends a year producing an album, then shifts 100,000 copies of it (which is a lot - not platinum, but still a hell of a lot for most bands). Once the pie gets split up, the band gets 10% for performing it, and the songwriter around another 10%. Assuming the band has 4 members and 1 songwriter, each member gets £25k (before tax) and the songwriter £125k. This isn't money to get anyone rich, and £25k is below the average wage for the UK. At the same time, bands have expenses. Instruments to buy, studio time to rent, none of which is cheap. Now, you supplement that money with gigging which is more profitable, so long as you are filling venues, but if musicians don't get remunerated for spending a year or more producing an album they just won't do it. The only people who will continue doing it are the manufactured bands where the album is a key part of marketing the product.

Remember in this the history of some of the big, but quirky bands. Pink Floyd was successfully gigging for over 2 years before going into the studio. If the studio time wasn't going to make money, they might have just carried on gigging instead of producing some of the bestselling and most popular albums of all time. Dave Matthews Band had built a huge following through gigs and allowing bootlegging, when they independently released Remember Two Things and eventually went platinum with it. But if producing that album was going to be worthless would they have just carried on gigging? Probably.

Personally, I think music should be live, but albums provide a useful bridge in spreading the music for a worthwhile return. Yes, the music industry rapes musicians for every penny they have, and the fact that the musicians get about 10% from the album is criminal. Albums should be selling online for $5 each, with the bands taking around half of that (split between musicians and songwriters). That would be less income for the band per unit, but they would be selling lots and lots more. But just because the music industry rips off artists, does not give us the right to rip off the artists as well.

Remember that next time you download an album...

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If I record a radio show, what then?

I'm not doing an illegal download, but I end up with a digital track I can put on my iPod if I hook my Zoom H2 up to the analogue output on an FM tuner and record a radio show and then upload it to my computer. Is this a lost sale?

Not actually making an argument, I just want to know people's opinion; it all seems a bit fuzzy to me...

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Anonymous Coward

Give me the same right

A website wants to take my intellectual property -- my music -- and give it away for free to help me be better known?

Fine. Just let me do the same. I'll take their intellectual property -- text, images, CSS design, copyrighted images -- and duplicate their website in a 1000 different places That'll help them become better known. They can then make money by selling consultancy services rather than my music.

Sorted!

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I downloaded Billy's new album...

I downloaded Billy's new album the other week, it was good (not brilliant but well above average). I won't be buying it but I will go and see him on tour (for the 4th time) next time he's anywhere near and I'll probably buy another t-shirt.

and yes, I'm comfortable with my morals thank you.

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Anonymous Coward

@Sean Aaron

Recording off-air is very different to doing a download; for a start you have to spend time waiting for the track you want to be played (or record tons of material and wade through it to find what you want). Because of this its unlikely to replace buying music as the time taken and quality of the result don't make it a viable alternative for the majority of potential buyers. Downloading a "perfect copy" of the original recording from a P2P network is probably easier than buying it (you don't have to key in your bank details).

It's a lost sale if you consider buying a track, but then consciously decide to record it or download from P2P (as opposed to iTunes store say).

The money that would have gone to the people in the music industry (artists, technicians, marketing wankers etc.) stays in your pocket and you're happy (?).

The eventual trend though is to destroy the recorded entertainment industry as it has no source of income.

Artists who are already famous can ditch their recording companies and hire web-savvy marketing wankers to promote their new mode of business as live artists with free web-based promotional material.

New artists won't get anywhere (who's going to promote them if there's no money in it?) but who wants to listen to new music now that John Peel's dead?

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Patronage...

I would like to see some form of return to patronage- Fans would pay a stipend to their favourite artists and in return will receive access to their works both recorded and live. This could work in many different genres and media, not only music.

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Alert

re: Alan Mellor

OK, this is being done to death but Alan is the closest to giving a rational anti-downloading argument and one that can be equally rationally refuted.

"The one thing I am no longer able to do is to sell it to you. You have reduced my potential market by one, an odd thing to do given you seemed to like the song enough to download it."

Now, here's the thing. Most people who download music would not suddenly appear in record stores with wads of cash to buy the CDs if said downloads were not impossible. They would either stick with other free goods or find some other ways of getting the stuff for free. In those cases you've not been deprived of anything - you've not been deprived of a sale if said sale was not on the cards to begin with. There's no great analogy but I'm thinking of a person who reads a book in a bookstore instead of paying - there's no profit made, but you wouldn't increase your profits by demanding payment instead; that guy would just walk out.

Now, the flipside of that is somebody who wouldn't pay the asking fee for your CD on a whim, who listens to a free copy. They like it so they go ahead and buy the CD/t-shirt/concert tickets/DVD/whatever. All of a sudden, you have a big profit that wouldn't exist without the free copy. that certainly won't happen every time, but there's a much higher likelihood of it happening that getting someone who won't pay for music to do so.

The problem is that for the last couple of decades, the record industry has largely consisted of corporate entities who spend millions in advertising to push junk and then complain that they don't get enough money for it. People are wise to their sales tactics and even being able to listen to the album before buying is a great thing. the marketplace has changed, and the majors are behind.

Case in point - I can use an illegal service to download any album I wish in any quality at any point of the globe. If I try and buy a digital download, I'm given a geographically restricted (I'm not allowed to buy from Amazon), overpriced (check out Play's digital prices compared to their CDs) product that I can only sample tiny pieces of before paying and have no resale rights or recourse if I realise I've been ripped off. In other words, the pirates cater to every single consumer need better than the labels (and I'm not including price in that assessment).

Want to keep your market? Do a better job of selling your product.

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Paris Hilton

The Analogies Don't Work...

...for either side, for or against. An extra digital copy doesn't cost anything to produce, doesn't deprive anyone of anything and copy 1 000 is just as good as copy number 1. In short music has lost its scarcity value through being so easy to replicate and it is that - simple supply and demand - that controls the price or lack of it.

Last I heard the world wasn't suffering from a global shortage of pop stars - if anything there is a glut. If they were still working in a factory instead of being pop stars and their factory was no longer producing what people wanted to buy then no-one would suggest we keep paying them to produce their widgets. They are not owed a living just because they style themselves as 'artists'. I write poetry - I rarely get paid for it when it gets published (and then only trivial amounts), but then I know that and accept it and know that I'm highly unlikely to do it for a living, but I carry on because... well, that is what I do.

I haven't heard of that many rock stars giving it all up and getting a job cleaning windows or whatever recently either, so they should consider themselves lucky that anyone at all is ready to spend their hard-earned money on the outpourings of pop stars.

If every tunesmith in the world just gave up tomorrow, how long do you think it would be before we all crawled to their doors dragging bags of gold begging for just one more tune? I think it would be a very long time - perhaps instead we'd all learn how to whistle instead.

Paris 'cos there are certain 'talented' people I find it so easy to live without.

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Alert

Thanks

Thanks for reminding me what a great artist and Bloke Mr W Bragg is. I'm off to download his backcatalogue right now.

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Flame

Costs of music production, and promotion options

One thing that often seems to be ignored is that the cost of producing good quality recordings, for indie artists, isn't cheap. As such, they *need* to see a return on investment, whether by CD sales, download sales, or whatever. Loss leaders really *are* for indies, in way that they aren't for the majors.

And re: AC who wrote "Some things may have changed but ": Bragg's quite right to acknowledge that regular gigging isn't available to everyone as a promotional route, for a number of reasons. A few examples: your music isn't completely mass market, so your choice of venues and locations is limited; your band is spread over 60 miles or so geographically; everyone has a day job (which helps you afford the kit needed to record music well, the gear you need for gigs, etc)

Not everyone can be starving 20 year old students, living in a shitey bedsit, gigging around London most nights of the week trying to get noticed. I really resent the implication that if you're not doing that then your music probably isn't worth consideration, or that you're perceived as not putting the effort in.

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Dead Vulture

Re: Patronage ...

"I would like to see some form of return to patronage- Fans would pay a stipend to their favourite artists and in return will receive access to their works both recorded and live. This could work in many different genres and media, not only music."

Einsturzende Neubauten tried that with their "Perpetuum Mobile" (I think) album - it didn't work quite as well as you'd think but, to their credit, they're persevering with that particular 'business model' (for want of a better description) - see http://supporter.neubauten.org/

Personally I'll keep trawling through the multitudinous netlabel releases, most of which are released under some kind of creative commons license. Granted, the quality of the stuff is wildly variable but it's almost all better than the sort of turgid crap that populates the charts these days.

Dead vulture, 'cos that the best approximation to the 'mainstream' music industry I could find.

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Flame

A lot of people here...

Have not got a frigging clue what its like to try and earn a living as an artist...

Make money just on gigs? Maybe it works at the moment, but not for some one who for one reason or another doesn't play live, and certainly not for songwriters... And absolutely not for bands who are startuing out and pretty much end up paying to play these days... But there have been plenty of times in the past when the gigs were basically subsidised by record sales anyway.

As for "I haven't heard of that many rock stars giving it all up and getting a job cleaning windows or whatever recently either". Get bloody real mate. What the hell do you think happened to all those one hit wonders and all the rest of it? Read the "Where are they now" features in Q Magazine... Think about all the people who never made enough of a living to go full on pro anyway.. There are some bloody amazing musicians who have given it up: some of my all time favourites in fact...

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Flame

Does anyone miss the irony...

That Billy Brag couldn't get enough of Communism in the 90's, and now he is pissed off that people want to get his work for free? Work to your ability Billy, we'll take what we need, you pinko commie fuckstick!

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Anonymous Coward

anyway

only the other day I purchased 11 copies of a single so I could get 8 handshaking events with AKB48 girls and 3 akb posters (I managed to get one of the 43 signed ones ho ho ho go me.)

Also purchased £400 worth of Berryz, Hello project and morning musume concerts, all to watch on my new TV.

O after buying the 11 copies of the single I gave 8 of them to people in the maid bar we were drinking in.

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Paris Hilton

Web 2.0

Why do you persist in using this "Web 2.0" phrase sh*t ?

Anyone that reads El Reg will be more than aware of what a load of marketing cobblers the phrase is. I can only hope you are using it with tongue firmly in cheek.

You'll be making news space for "the semantic web" next. Oh.. Errrrr.....

Paris because she quite rightly never troubled herself with semantics.

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Anonymous Coward

Freetard responses

It's interesting to read the variety of justifications people make for not paying for music. So I made a list:

"I would like to see some form of return to patronage"

TRANSLATION: I'm a tightwad.

"...he could get a real job"

TRANSLATION: I hate music. Your life will be as shitty as mine.

"As a consumer what I would like to see is the majority of music released by an artist under a CC license"

TRANSLATION: As a tightwad, I hate paying for anything.

"Its about time the Record Industry stopped producing Plastic Pop Groups and shows like The X Factor should stop their "talent" shows for 1 hit wonders and actually release music from artists that can play a proper instrument(s)."

TRANSLATION: Because I think some music is rubbish, I'm not going to pay for any of it.

"The smart creative artists will however make it through though, as will the man."

TRANSLATION: I can download stuff and it's not my problem. My actions have no consequences.

"The sense of entitlement that stems from many "artists" is completley out of align with thier respective talents."

TRANSLATION: Some artists are greedy, so none of them will get my money.

"If they're smart enough, song writers and artists will make the most of the new, cheaper publicity and distribution channels and only the music execs will suffer, at the expense of the web VCs."

TRANSLATION: With my imaginary money, you can pay the rent.

"Want to keep your market? Do a better job of selling your product."

TRANSLATION: But don't try selling it to me, I'm a tightwad.

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Up the workers

There's a lack of perspective. Artists have come believe that for six weeks in the studio, they're due 46 weeks off because they should be able to live off the sales of that 6 week's work (and even retire off the proceeds).

As an alternative look at classical musicians who don't have the luxury of large recording contracts and work at music like a regular job. It's how musicians used to work - you don't play, you don't eat. It doesn't stop you becoming rich or famous, it just takes more time, more dedication and more skill.

The thing with the internet is that for small bands it doesn't make that much difference - it increases the audience, gets more people to gigs and has the potential of getting more buyers to find your music. And the upside is there with the internet you should be able to earn a hell of a lot more per copy of your music sold with no middle men involved (at least if the MCPS dragged itself into the 21st Century). If you're a musician who is willing to work, the Internet should work for you as it has the ability to increase your income as a live act and distribute your music to willing buyers, network with fans and generally make money at your music.

It's the larger and more famous acts that copytheft affects most as it slows down the gravy-train and cuts into the stupidly large income for them and for their record producers/advisors etc.This is what's hurting the industry - major acts simply stop being so valuable because of the copying. But then they do have really abnormal expectations of what they should earn from a few days work.

I'd be after more working musicians playing live please, and fewer high-rollers, fat cats and manufactured acts. I would have thought Billy would be with the workers on this one (and Billy was the first live music I ever paid to see).

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