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How Music Got Free and Creatocracy

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Brass tacks is that the music industry was too arrogant - at least at the 'big end of town'. They had lived so large for so long* that they were dismissive of any other models that looked like they might result in less profits.

They thought that their model could persist forever.

Spoiler alert: they were wrong.

Now, as some who have read my posts touching on copyright may know, I am no supporter of illegal downloading. I did it to a small extent when I was much younger but can categorically say that there is NO music that I listened to more than a handful of times that I did not purchase. Often times this resulting in entire back-catalogues, as it did with Morcheeba and I purchased their newer stuff, unheard, as well.

But that is the point - it's a medium that lends itself to discovering music in a way that going to the local music store used to but that modern life has made more difficult because people just don't have the time to go browse like they used to.

Unfortunately, music has now lost a lot of value for many, with things like Youtube streaming providing so much music for so little compensation for artists and the several dominant players exploiting artists every bit as much, though in a different way, as the old moguls.

As Gillian Welch sang: "Everything is free now".

* - Only after typing that did I make the Batman connection.

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No cracking needed

reports that the Germans’ meticulous memory for details deserts them for a year or so, by which time their software has been cracked and has become the standard.

Cracked? As I remember it, the early MP3 software was based on Fraunhofer's reference implementation, which wasn't exactly a secret, being an attachment to the MPEG standard (and before it was published, probably circulated quite widely with the drafts and other working documents for the standard, as is the usual practice).

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Re: No cracking needed

Talk to Fabrice Bellard, a certified genius and founder of ffmpeg under a pseudonym to avoid RIAA or others suing him. Whether ffmpeg re-created Fraunhofer's work or just sounded good enough, I believe it was the main force in turning MP3 into the lossy format of choice (being used in VLC and mplayer and then, well, everything).

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Re: No cracking needed

'a certified genius' - I think you're underestimating him.

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Pirate

@ 1980s_coder

I see your post has been ripped and digitally copied already. Damn those pirates.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ 1980s_coder

@ 1980s_coder

I see your post has been ripped and digitally copied already. Damn those pirates.

This time they didn't even bother to credit the original copier and simply passed the post off as their own. Damn those meta-pirates.

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Can't they just blame the makers of CD/Tape Recorders? ;)

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@Stuart

Actually, I believe that this forms an interesting examination of the mindset of these corporations. Quite simply, consumers already thought of music the way that we are being told we should now. Which is to say that people always thought that music is about the ability to listen to it, not the physical medium it is presented on.

Thus, why should a mix-tape of songs you already own the license to listen to constitute a breach of copyright?

Unfortunately, music corporations wanted it both ways - they want to restrict the way people listen to music rather than enhance it. If I buy the license to listen to a song then I expect to be able to do that however, whenever, and on whatever device I want. Now, I appreciate that buying a lossy-compressed MP3 shouldn't give me the right to listen to that music in high-definintion, SACD quality but these corporations object to me listening to a lossless CD as a lossy MP3. Which is ridiculous.

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WTF?

Bovine excrement

The Constitution is the force behind Hollywood and Silicon Valley, behind rock stars, and rocket scientists, and everything we love and everything we love to hate."

Rocket scientists like von Braun, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Hermann Oberth?

Rock stars - too many to mention.

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Worse?

How did we get a system that's actually less ethical than an industry that was founded on close links to organised crime, payola, dodgy accounting and monumental waste?

I think closer inspection will probably find is exactly as unethical as before but with fewer players. The industry used to support rank after rank of unscrupulous middlemen between the artist and the public each with a hand in the till. Now there is just one big till and one big hand but the result is pretty much the same.

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Re: Worse?

I was thinking exactly this while reading the article. Industry consolidation has been the problem. There are four major labels, and if ever a small competitor starts getting large, they are gobbled up. This is the triumph of capitalism.

Massive and very profitable members of the entertainment cartel can then use a small percentage of their profits to purchase the legal framework they need to continue to make huge profits.

Music, movies, oil, diamonds, or cauliflower, it makes no difference what the product is, if there are a small number of rich players in a market, the barriers to entry to grow bigger.

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CM
Joke

On a theme

So, let's pirate this book and maintain the galaxy's new equilibrium :-)

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Pirate

Home taping is killing music

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Facepalm

Free?

The figures show LOTS of people still by CDs and some even Vinyl.

That's in world with now additional competition for your entertainment spend that didn't exist up to 1970s:

Subscriptions/costs for Mobile, Broadband, Netflix, Amazon Prime, online gaming.

Apps, Games, DVD/Blu Ray, iTunes etc

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Linux

Re: Free?

Back in the old days, the only mobile entertainment device you really had was a radio. This gave the music industry a tremendous advantage. They had a sort of monopoly in the mobile space. Once mobile devices started adequately playing games and displaying video, they no longer had a captive audience.

We grew up with transistor radios and our children grew up with Nintendo. That's not even getting into the current generation of mobile networked devices.

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Coat

If I hum a tune...

...How much will I owe RIAA?

Thank goodness I'm not in a country that represses an individual's rights...

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Re: If I hum a tune...

For "live performances" such as humming, it's ASCAP you really have to watch out for.

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Suffering artists

I do get a bit weary of the cry that artists are exploited by the system (of whichever kind). I mostly don't care.

The problem with 'artists' is that they think they are owed a living for their art. Nope. The lesson for the artist who can't sell in a crowded market with massive oversupply and generally lousy quality is that the world doesn't need what you make.

Go get a job.

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Re: Suffering artists

Art is a job. Sadly, kids mowing yards get paid a few bucks an hour, while artists are seen as philanthropists giving what they do for free or dirt unlivable wages. It's not that they're "owed a living" or that there's "oversupply" - it's that the cash register and front door for artists are intentionally left open. When they call 911, well, that only applies to banks and record labels - individuals just look like Flavor Flav twitching on the pavement.

But don't worry - this is the future of all software programming as well, except there you might presume an oversupply. In any case, hardware makes money; software is free; wetware is decomposing as we speak.

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Re: Suffering artists

I agree with your comment, but just a little, and since there is no half upvote, half downvote button, I will not vote at all.

I agree that there are a lots of mediocre people out there that call themselves "artists", most of them are just lazy assed d-bags that think they deserve fame and fortune for doing nothing, but there are also lots of really talented and dedicated real Artists (with capital A) that are not taken seriously by these big media corporations, just because they don't want to be part of the shit pop culture that those companies keep pushing on us.

Being a Artist used to be a respected profession centuries ago, but to be called an Artist you had to be a damn good one (think Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and the likes), nowadays any moron with a big ass, shaking it in front of people is called an "artists" (think Rhiana, Shakira, and the likes).

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Anonymous Coward

@nilfs2

I agree with your comment, but just a little, and since there is no half upvote, half downvote button, I will not vote at all.

If you look more closely, you'll find that "Artists" have been universally reviled for centuries. Most major composers made their living not from composing, but through performance. Several of them were accomplished pianists, which allowed them to charge performance fees; alternatively as a conductor you could receive a decent salary working at a church or orchestra. Otherwise (and often, even still), they had to hope for someone wealthy to sponsor their compositions. Of course, painters often had it even worse with their work generally going unnoticed during their lifetime, only to be worth huge sums decades afterwards. There's a reason why we have the starving artist stereotype. No one wants to pay for the art, only the performance.

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Re: Suffering artists

re: Beethoven, Bach, Mozart

Didn't they tend to get people to pay them to compose? Getting your money up-front and doing a lot of composing might be handy.

What happens today is different.

Someone noted that you get a little brain reward when you hear something, you know what comes next and then it happens as expected. I noticed this when I heard an 80's track and thought "ooh great!" despite really disliking the actual track.

So what we get now is saturation coverage by promotion companies which means people get a little "brain reward" whenever they hear it, which they confuse with liking the track itself and/or the artist.

Many "artists" seem to think its their art which people like and is successful. That's only minimally correct - the real determinant of success (given a pool of approximately equally good "art") is the cash spent on promotion.

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Re: @nilfs2

Most major composers made their living not from composing, but through performance

and read what they all said about publishers - same complaints.

patrons little better - sometimes a little slow in paying & refused to pay if they didn't like the work

or out and out mongrels - think reasons for, and theatricality of, Haydn's "Farewell Symphony"

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Re: Suffering artists

Being a Artist used to be a respected profession centuries ago, but to be called an Artist you had to be a damn good one (think Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and the likes)

Oh, look, the kids are posting again. Is it still Eternal September? (Yes. It's always Eternal September.)

Complaining about the degeneration of the present day - and yes, that includes whatever passes for art - goes back pretty much as far as the historical record. And there's no reason to believe it doesn't go back further; we just don't have evidence of it, for obvious reasons.

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Re: Suffering artists

Didn't they tend to get people to pay them to compose?

We call that "patronage", and according to Orlowski, it's what Wurtzel is contrasting the US IP system with in Creatocracy.

A more important difference, of course, is that celebrated artists of the past are precisely those that made it through the filter of historical changes in taste. Whether that makes them "great" is a problem of aesthetics (and psychology and anthropology and various other disciplines), but claiming that there weren't mediocre artists in the past is sheer foolishness.

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Mushroom

Re: Suffering artists

Nope. A kid mowing a lawn gets paid for mowing the lawn once.

He doesn't get a royalty anyone looks at it or walks across it.

He has to work in order to get paid. He can't just sit on his ass and expect to get paid for doing nothing.

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Holmes

Streaming, and get rid of the leach in the middle

Get royalties from streaming is the obvious answer for musicians, but the problem is that most of those royalties go to a company in the between the streaming service and the artist; if the artists could get rid of the leach in the middle, they could do a lot better.

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Anonymous Coward

Q. What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime?

A. One Direction.

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L M F A O ..

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Anonymous Coward

No mention of Creative Commons music?

Sites like https://www.jamendo.com are full of good CC music.

May I recommend Professor Kliq, LukHash and Boogie Belgique just for starters.

You don't have to accept the old industry.....

Professor Kliq did a great talk about it a few years ago, but I can't find it right now.

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Anonymous Coward

Less ethical?

"How did we get a system that's actually less ethical than an industry that was founded on close links to organised crime, payola, dodgy accounting and monumental waste?"

To get less ethical than that you'd have to start murdering people I would think. Oh wait, organised crime already does that.

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Spending money

I think the only money I spend on music now goes on overpriced alcohol at concerts (plus the ticket of course, when I can't blag that for free or at least get the super early bird version).

btw. Whatever happens to musicians will eventually happen to everybody. (c) Bruce Sterling.

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