Anarchy in music

09Nov07

There’s nothing like bringing up old arguments.

And you can pretty much guarantee an emotional outburst when discussing what Radiohead did last month after they released their album online in a ‘pay what you want model’.  

Despite a positive response – (paidcontent noted thirty-eight percent of those who downloaded the title indeed chose to pay something, while 62 percent kept their change in their pocket) – when Mike Arrington from TechCrunch, wrote a post about “The Inevitable March of Recorded Music Towards Free”, Jupiter analyst David Card was quick to call him an “armchair economist” without backing it up.

A good fight followed.

Which brings me onto the emotional aspect of the music industry – an industry which is massively growing and yet ‘the fair amount of money’ does not appear to end up in the musicians pockets. Note that this industry has in excess of one billion songs a day are shared online as mp3s, says an estimate in a 2007 IDC white paper.

What Radiohead did was brave – admittedly they had a large following and are not in desperate need of cash unlike others.

But others too are forcing a change in the music business. Mashable points to Trent Reznor who is incredibly articulate in his thinking:

…Most people aren’t aware of the world of art and commerce where exploitation strips each artist down to ni**er. Each label, like apartheid, multiplies us by our divide and whips us ’til we conform to lesser figures. What falls between the cracks is a pile of records stacked to the heights of talents hidden from the sun…And the only way to choose is to jump ship from old truths and trust dolphins as we swim through changing ways.

Lucky for Mashable they have a translator programme and explained that what Trent really meant was:

I’m mad as heck [that when I’m an artist and go quadruple-super-platinum I only get like $20 after studio fees], and I’m not going to take it anymore. And dolphins are cool.

If you remove the emotions a few certain truths emerge. The most important of these is that despite the music industry trying to force protection into it’s work, music (and other media) will inevitably be distributed free (and illegally). What the industry needs to do is stop battling this and embrace the change working out ways it can continue to add value. If not, they will be discarded as an unnecessary middleman.



2 Responses to “Anarchy in music”

  1. 1 bluespiral

    Actually that quote is from Saul Williams http://niggytardust.com/saulwilliams/moreinfo (not Trent Reznor). I think it’s poetry or something. Trent would probably agree with the translation though. Dolphins are cool.

  2. It mentioned above all control is damage control…How about muscle control?


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