Pandora, Spotify, the new devil?

Responding to this Stereogum article ‘Deconstructing: Pandora, Spotify, Piracy, And Getting Artists Paid‘ I thought I’d repost it here:

Can we look at that specific example and devise ways to make piracy less convenient for fans and less profitable for distributors, because such reform is better for our cultural health over the short-, medium-, and long-terms? Where there’s a will there’s a way. We would end up with a different Internet, in the sense that it would be a better regulated, fairer Internet of expanded opportunity for artists and legit businesses.

Don’t agree – doing a ‘Just say no’ No tolerance attitude to file-sharing won’t work, as it hasn’t with drugs – and just look at the mess over Megaupload for that – feel sorry for the legitimate users who have lost their files and the trampling of international law that took place.

I think rather than victimising fans – after all study after study has shown that the biggest pirates are the biggest paid consumers of music, rather than less – maybe you should look at the existing legit download model. Paying more for a bunch of MP3s than CDs with no warehouse costs, no printing or duplication costs is ridiculous but again and again I have a choice whether to pay more for a digital download or wait a few days then get the physical CD *for less*. This isn’t some blackmarket CD seller, this is Tescos or Sainsburys or or Amazon. That’s the biggest problem – people know how much goes to iTunes or the store, people know how little goes to the artist. That’s why I try and support bandcamp releases and self-published releases if possible since I know the artist is getting more.

The problem isn’t that the users or ‘new media gurus’ devalued the music, it’s that the industry has gouged the consumer on every format change from vinyl to CD to MP3. Sort out a fair price, or bonuses for buying physical copies (see the return of vinyl for something that bucks this end of the world trend) or special deals – a classic is buy the physical album and get a download code – simple stuff but many don’t do it. Another is for record companies to release their back catalogues.

Again and again I’d happily pay for some rare 12? mix or long deleted album as a nice fresh digital download which goes to the artist and estate rather than some Popsike/Discogs chancer with a dodgy scratched copy – but again and again I’m dismayed. Bootlegs (of the original sort) and the like should have been history YEARS ago….there is hardly any cost for a label to release it’s entire catalogue digitally. But it seems so many records still remain as scratchy vinyl rips unless you want to spend hundreds of pounds on ‘rare’ vinyl which I care little for. I want the contents, the format or special japanese pressing made of uranium and pubic hair interests me not.

So solve those and I think the record labels will eventually be in rude health. But keep this mindset of only releasing the newest thing and ‘deleting’ the old (some of the most expensive things I’ve come across recently were DVDs or CDs only released a few years ago and going for a pretty penny now – surely we should be past such things in this digital age? Nope…) then of course they’ll struggle because they’re not actually benefiting from any of this, nor even being able to measure demand on older or not-so-old catalogues because they are deleted.

I would make it so the copyright laws were changed that if you didn’t exploit that right within a certain period you lose it – i.e. after release date, you need to keep it on sale otherwise the right either reverts to the artist or goes public domain. This would stop record labels holding onto albums for aeons, and mean a new artist-friendly secondary market would prevail….or at least mean long-lost careers might be salvaged from the industry.

One Comment

  1. Anton Gully
    December 15

    Heh! Came here having done a search for Spotify after failing to understand what I was missing once I’d installed it.

    Not what I was after (a reason to keep Spotify installed) but an intriguing article nonetheless.

    Vinyl is a dead thing and like most end of life items it is exclusively for collectors who don’t understand the concept of “worth”. Those plastic disks will keep their value until nobody cares. Might be months, might be decades. They have no actual worth, above what someone will pay and like comics they were either mass market items that nobody took care of but which survived in droves anyway, or collectors items which thousands of people bagged up. It means there is at once a large collectible market and no real demand because all the collectors already have a copy and nobody else is entering the market.

    I get that rare vinyl rips are desirable. Okay, obviously I don’t understand that at all, but I’m prepared to play a character that does. Vinyl is important and the technology to transfer it perfectly to the digital medium is still unavailable. This is a disaster. End scene. That was me caring about digital rips of vinyl.

    Personally I don’t much like copyright. For a living I deal with things. I buy things, I sell things. The passage of things provides an income.

    I have no talent. No-one would pay to watch me profit off things. I make a living,

    Pretty much everything we ascribe to a value when it comes to musical talent, these days used to be known as marketing. Doing that job became too obvious so we have a proliferation of marketing seen as artistic like CDs and radio play and Youtube videos and lunch boxes…

    I can’t approve of copying thing. Tee-shirts, or lunch boxes or back-packs. No. These are things which an artist profits from because of their performance.

    You can protect access to a performance venue, I do not understand how you can protect copyright on a performance which has been beamed to the stars. It isn’t greedy to expect people to pay for your ruffled air movements. It’s naive and impossible.

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