back to article Music Biz: The Man is still The Man, man

A long weekend is traditional time for gentlemen to retire to the garden shed. Even if you're not planning to do so yourself, please do spare half an hour to read what I think might be the best analysis of the music business I've read this year - or, I think, any year. It's a quite magnificent, panoramic view of the landscape …


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  1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    Thanks for this.

    Just read the whole thing. (He could use some help with editing, I think.)

    Damned good read, and pretty much sums up my own research. I have a cousin who is a well-known Italian musician and he's been hammered brutally by counterfeiters*.

    The studio cost is one many civvies really don't get: take a look at any decent CD or vinyl album and you'll often see credits for both a recording studio and a mastering studio. The latter is where the final mix is done for release. Here, you'll tweak the levels and frequencies to avoid problems with certain media. For example, vinyl recordings needed to have the bass and percussion frequencies reined back, or the needle might literally get kicked out of the groove. Mastering studios are also where you'd finalise any surround sound processing.

    One example of how much corner-cutting has crept into the industry is the rise of "normalised" tracks. There's hardly any dynamic range any more: every track's level has been rammed up to the max in order to make it sound 'loud'. It's the same technique used on adverts—that's why they often sound so much louder than the TV programmes they're interrupting. Normalising makes sense in some contexts, but it's very wearing. It is, however, very easy to apply... and abuse.

    * (Pirates were usually vicious, murdering bastards, often funded by national governments to spank the living crap out of rival merchant shipping as a surrogate for outright warfare. Quite why counterfeiters believe this is a cool thing to be associated with escapes me.)

    1. AVee

      Re: Thanks for this.

      "Quite why counterfeiters believe this is a cool thing to be associated with escapes me."

      It wasn't the counterfeiters who invented the term...

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      @Sean - it's called compression.

      The "normalisation" you mention is more properly knowns as "compressed to hell and back", and has nothing to do with spending more or less on recording or mastering.

      Leaving the dynamic range in would cost no more, possibly a bit (though not noticeably) less as it's a step you can leave out.

      It's a deliberate choice by the producers of the track.

      My guess is because every track wants to be the 'loudest' on the radio or the various music TV channels, for the same reason most adverts are also compressed to buggery.

      Though compression does cover a multitude of sins, not least an the artist's inability to sing. Rather like autotune, but less obvious.

      Autotune and sampling is where you look for the corner cutting. Sampling cuts out the musicians, autotune cuts out the vocalists, doing both cuts out most of a recording studio.

      There are one heck of a lot of tracks using massive amounts of both, to the point where it could have been anybody 'singing' in the first place.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley
        Thumb Up

        Re: @Sean - it's called compression.

        Oops, you're right: it is compression, not normalisation. I often get those two mixed up.

        "It's a deliberate choice by the producers of the track." — and why is a producer doing this? Anyone who is a genuine fan of music should be against it unless they can justify it in the context of the track. My suspicion is that many of the current generation of producers are really just in it for the money, not the craftsmanship.

        Autotune does have some legitimate uses in music, but I agree with you that it is too often used to hide the flaws of the singers. (Sometimes it does make sense: Maika's "Embrasse Moi" dance track is a good example of Autotune working well in the context of the song.)

        Sampling also has very legitimate uses and isn't even a new technique: it began with the Musique Concrète movement in the 1940s. Delia Derbyshire's original 1963 Doctor Who theme is entirely sample-based.

        It's normal for most musicians to create basic guide tracks and demos using their home studio kit, swapping out orchestral samples for a real orchestra later in a professional recording studio if the track is green-lit. I've seen it done. This isn't corner-cutting. It's just that fitting the London Symphony Orchestra into a bedroom studio isn't feasible.

        That's why larger studios like Air and Abbey Road are still trading as you can get an orchestra into either of those.

        Breaking the rules is part and parcel of artistry, but those tools are definitely abused for the wrong reasons, so I agree with you in principle. Simon Cowell certainly has a lot to answer for.

    3. Stevie

      Re: Thanks for this.

      The reason the drums and bass were "dialed back" on older media was to stop the transients causing distortion on the mastering media - analog tape.

      I've seen this "kicked out of the groove" story cropping up more and more but have yet to actually speak with anyone who ever saw it happen sans the influence of perception-altering substances. I've seen styli knocked out of the groove for many reasons myself, but never because the amplitude of the groove geometry was too aggressive.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: Thanks for this.

        "I've seen this "kicked out of the groove" story cropping up more and more but have yet to actually speak with anyone who ever saw it happen "

        I really have seen it happen.

        There's a lot of "white label" vinyl out there and some of the earlier efforts weren't particularly well made. There's a reason why every good record player has that adjustable counterweight bolted to the far end of the pickup.

        That said, you're extremely unlikely to witness it in person if you only listen to professionally produced vinyl, so it's hardly surprising this is often considered a myth.

        The distortion thing is also a valid point however.

    4. Daggersedge

      Re: Thanks for this.

      You're thinking of privateers, not pirates. Privateers were state-sponsored; pirates were not. Pirates worked for themselves (and the merchants and consumers who bought their ill-gotten goods).

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: Thanks for this.

        "You're thinking of privateers, not pirates."

        I'm aware of the difference, but, from the end user's perspective, whether the bearded shouty guy with the cutlass in his mouth was self-employed and had his own tax accountant, or was a full-time employee of a nation and got a monthly payslip with a PAYE entry isn't all that relevant. Either way, you were about to have a very, very bad day indeed.

  2. Nanners

    The moral of the story

    If you like playing music, if you are genuinely compelled to express yourself through music, if you are talented; stay the hell out of the music business and never make it a job. Get a real job and let music save your soul as it should be.

  3. auburnman

    Plus ten points for the phrase...

    "a tendency to monopoly because we are fucking lazy fat slobs"

    Rather succinctly sums up the rationale behind one of the big problems of our time I think.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plus ten points for the phrase...

      The rich get richer the big get bigger unless there is a meteorite or something, it will continue to be that way.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting read

    It is good to read the linked article with something with real info behind it, and as he pointed out the lack of transparency in some models like Spotify is worrying if not downright suspicious.

    The cost aspect of getting payment appears as an issue. If the order of a penny per track playing was sustainable for most artists, then the problem is getting folk to pay and I suspect the issue is less of the value and more of the inconvenience (and profiteering by those handling credit/debit card payment). I guess that is the attraction of a Spotify-like subscriber model.

    I disagree with the opinion on as, like any form of censorship, it needs to be transparent as to what and why. I doubt most looking for pirate material are really going to go for those extra few clicks, as he already mentioned the influence of the top-of-Google position on Joe public.

    Overall an enlightening article.

  5. Don Jefe


    Metallica aren't a failed band & they pretty much invented the anti-freetard movement.

    I did like the article although the guy really needs an editor. You can't expect to be taken seriously, no matter how valid your point, if your writing is that awful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wasn't it a transcript?

      Sorry, too fat and lazy to go back and check this out, but that was how I read it and it came across ok in that context. Sure, I don't like "gonna" even in speach, buy hey, he's American ;)

      Apart from the presentation quibbles...

      One of the most thought-provoking, and depressing, articles on the subject. What price the future of music, eh?

  6. Schultz

    And the solution is?

    Getting nostalgic for the good old days is all very fine, but the world has changed and we have to change with it. So what is the solution to the artists' woes? Police the internet, sniff all communications to kill freetardism? Music doesn't carry a label when transmitted no the intertubes, so the routine interception of your information will lay bare all aspects of (online) life. It would make the data collection efforts of the East-German Stasi look like a innocent newspaper clipping service.

    Maybe we have left the era of professionally-produced and well-financed bands / music creators and now enter the period of homemade amateur music. The established musicians of old won't like it, because their profession goes the way of the dinosaurs. But it may be the new world and the 'popstar culture' with lots of money in the system maybe a historic aberration tied to the short-lived era of physical recording media.

    1. Nanners

      Re: And the solution is?

      Exactly...its back to basics. The days before the rock star era. Before the labels built up super persona's and when musicians played for personal gratification. Maybe the general public will develop an actual ear for talented playing, and or live instruments. In the new world order every one is on equal footing; young and old. No one is to be admired when the machine does the work for you.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: And the solution is?

        Super-personas date back at least as far as Mozart. Handel made a shed-load of cash and Liszt was mobbed by fainting women.

        What's different this time is the demise of a rare model that made it possible for a minority of lucky - and occasionally talented - musicians to work at music full-time.

        No one expects coders, doctors or engineers to work on their jobs as a part-time hobby, but apparenlt creative people should because - er, why exactly?

        The usual reasoning seems to be that it's not a 'real job.'

        And it isn't. It's much chancier and riskier than working in an office. The hours can be cripplingly long - I know musicians who regularly work 14 hour days - and the pay is somewhere between really, really good and zero.

        If you expect all creative people to work as hobbyists, you'll get hobby-quality art. And no more than that.


        Considering how much music can define people's identities, that's both cheap and stupid.

        1. DavCrav

          Re: And the solution is?

          "No one expects coders, doctors or engineers to work on their jobs as a part-time hobby, but apparenlt creative people should because - er, why exactly?"

          Probably because a doctor cannot cure one patient and then claim royalties on all that patient's future earnings? (Although the idea is strangely similar.)

          More seriously, "creative people" -- I don't like the term, because it suggests that other people's work is somehow not creative -- enjoy a system where they do a job and then continue to get paid for it over and over again for the rest of their life. Coders are an interesting example; when the software they write gets sold, nobody pays them a slice of it, and they have to keep on working to keep getting paid.

          It's not obvious how to solve this problem though, without music companies acting like software companies, employing musicians on a wage, and they write songs for the company to sell. That would be an interesting idea, but it possibly sounds even worse than the current system.

          I guess what people who aren't in a copyright industry don't like about it is that someone works for a bit and then doesn't have to for the rest of their lives if successful, effectively sticking two fingers up at the rest of the population who have to work *every day* to continue being paid. Of course the reality for 90%+ musicians is that they still have to work every day because the royalties on their songs are so low that they barely put food on the table, never mind pay any other bill, or they indeed get paid piece work, just as coders do.

          But hey, it's a industry full of creative people, they can create a solution to this. (Joke alert icon purely for this line.)

        2. Nanners

          Re: And the solution is?

          You are actually streaming some valid thoughts, and using some perspective. I tend to believe that you are referring to a much more innocent time however. Those gentlemen were very refined musicians and knew the language of music to such a degree that thier talent made them stand out of the crowd. Of course we didn't have the number of musicians available today, but that's kind of the point my friend. Technology has made everyone equal. It is quite easy to knock out 20 musical tracks a day with a computer and a couple of grand in software. Of course it isn't very talented...but who's listening any way? It's just background noise at this point. The craft of sitting down and proficiently learning an instrument is old fashioned and lost in this impatient and "now" society. By abandoning this paradigm and imbarking on a life of genuine study and becoming technical with an instrument, one may find themselves actually becoming talented and musical over a period of time. In a very genuine since. As it is, every one is a musician, but no body is listening.

          1. Someone Else Silver badge

            @Nanners -- Re: And the solution is?

            So, that means a MIDI synthesizer, played by step-coding pitch, waveform and time, is not a real instrument? Or that hand-scoring an original composition using a combination of computer programs to produce a 5-part electronic composition isn't getting technical with an instrument?

            Maybe you should try it sometime...

            1. Nanners

              Reply: Re: @Nanners -- And the solution is?

              It's o.k., as I know I upset a certain group of individuals when this topic comes to light. You should know that I've been dealing with this very topic for half my life. You see I'm forty years old, and grew up close to Detroit. When I went to high school we still used typewriters. There was no such thing as personal computers, only big, very rich companies had a few desktop computers. Microsoft was still trying to find a way to get rich. I witnessed the entire revolution, right before my eyes. I saw the computer age, the information age, and the Internet...all in my short 40 years. I also was there for the rave explosion. I saw techno as it happened, I was a part of it. in the interest of keeping this to a reasonable length, let me tell you...electronic music died around 2000 ... You are a little late to the party. I have produced and dj'd and still have many friends making a living in the "underground" culture. It's dead. If you are surprised by the rate of progression and digression, welcome to my world. All I can tell you in such limited space is that there was a time when electronic music wasn't formulated and was more punk rock than anything. These guys were musicians, expressing themselves with instruments...and it wasn't easy. It was innovative, time consuming work. Even they didn't realize the ease of which any ten year old can publish a track these days. That's as far as I can go in this forum.

        3. Joe Cooper

          Re: And the solution is?

          My favorite music brings me continuous joy and I for one am glad the artist behind it can make a living and really devote themselves to it, rather than trying to cram it in after hours so that I don't have to feel bad about someone else making money.

          "If you expect all creative people to work as hobbyists, you'll get hobby-quality art. And no more than that."

          People like to run their mouths about how all big-budget Hollywood stuff is crap and we should only want hobby-quality productions, yet a hell of a lot of what's downloaded for free is what you can only make with big budgets; vapid tech demos like Transformers 3 and the like.

    2. Malcom Ryder 1

      Re: And the solution is?

      Take the skinheads bowling of course

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch

        Re: And the solution is?

        > Take the skinheads bowling of course

        Well I don't know what the world may want ... but what [it] needs right now is another folk singer like I need a hole in my head.

        (thanks for the jog down memory lane, btw)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ONE of the solutions, to part of the problem is

      in the presentation itself, and it is that good old, once beloved monster of capitalism: Competition.

      Competition to iTunes; competition to Amazon.

      "Freetardism" is only a part of the problem. Monopolistic capitalism is the other.

      Do pay attention to the whole picture

  7. arrbee

    I suspect many musicians, authors, etc would find the current situation slightly easier to take if those who don't pay for their work would stop trying to claim some kind of moral justification - they've probably had a belly full of almost identical cant from the music industry over the years.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      ^^^ This.

      If musicians are so evil in wanting to be paid for writing music for a living—and the vast majority of musicians are NOT multi-millionaires! Madonna and her ilk are the exceptions, not the norm—why the hell would you even want to download their music?

      Why download a movie at all if you think it sucks?

      Why download a TV series if you think it's formulaic?

      On what planet is giving anyone 100% of fuck all morally "better" than giving them 10% of something?

      If you consider yourself a true rebel, there are far better things to rebel against than an old business model that was always going to change anyway. Why get all worked up about musicians and artists when there are politicians, televangelists, spammers and many other parasites far more deserving of such vitriol?

  8. Chad H.


    I think there was a point in there somewhere, but it seemed to be swamped by the usual greedy iTunes wine... Most retail outlets take a lot more than 30% of the retail price.

  9. AVee

    Isn't music simply 'out-of-fashion'?

    I always feel get the impression everybody writing about the music industry overlooks the fact that there simply is less money to be made in music these days.

    Music used to be a big thing to spend money on in the 80's and 90's, now there is a wider range of stuff music has to compete against. Kids these will simply spend less money on music because they are spending it on gadget, games and cell-phone bills. You can't discuss the music industry revenues without looking at the world around it. Music is entertainment (and perhaps fashion), and it that business a lot of new stuff has appeared. Music needs to compete with iPhones and World of Warcraft these days. A competition which didn't existed before and therefore is bound to make a dent in the revenue from music.

    1. Daggersedge

      Re: Isn't music simply 'out-of-fashion'?

      Good point.

      It can also be said that there is less money for the totality of an artist's works. It used to be that you ended up buying a whole album so that you could hear the one or maybe two songs that you liked; the rest ended up, no matter what their quality was, as just being fillers. These 'fillers' were, in effect, subsidised by the few songs on an album that people actually wanted.

      Now, with iTunes and the like, people can just buy the songs they want to hear. That means that an artist will see his album 'sliced up' into individual songs, some of which will sell and some of which will not. No matter how many people buy the 'good' songs, there will be a feeling with some artists, that they are losing out.

      Another reason why there is less money out there is that really, quality has gone down. This started in the 80s and it hasn't got any better, I'm afraid. If it weren't for the likes of iTunes, I wouldn't have bought *any* music at all over the last year. As it is, I was able to find certain classics that my collection lacked and the soundtracks for some of my favourite animés. Too many bands, though, sound just like each other. Too little creativity and too much striving for the success another band has had.

    2. kissingthecarpet

      Re: Isn't music simply 'out-of-fashion'?

      Anyone who doesn't realise this obvious fact shouldn't be publishing articles claiming to "analyse" the music biz. Things have changed. Kids realise that there's no room for rebellion through music these days - there's few parents shocked by hairstyles or thrashing guitars any more, whereas games like Grand Theft Auto or almost anything on the internet still inspire moral panic (which of course makes them hugely appealing). The old idea of the '45' is long gone, & pop seems to be as it was in the mid-70s - management controlled shite.

      They need a new model, and fast

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Isn't music simply 'out-of-fashion'?

      True, but... a record, especially an album, was never a cheap thing to buy. Don't let those antique price labels make anyone think otherwise. There's been a hell of a lot of inflation since then.

      And we certainly had other things to spend our money on. Some of them enhanced the experience of listening to the music.

    4. James!

      Re: Isn't music simply 'out-of-fashion'?

      The thing is, though, people are currently listening to as much, if not more, music than ever. Music isn't less popular than before - it's just that of all the other entertainment products competing for our money, music is the easiest to get for free.

      But I agree that the current climate may, in future, lead to a situation where music is well and truly out of fashion. If respect for musicians continues to diminish, there really won't be the allure for kids to create music at all. When I was a kid, it was the adults telling the young aspiring musicians that they should get a proper job; now it seems to be the other way around. In the name of justifying piracy, we cultivate the belief that musicians are greedy, out of touch, control freaks. Who would want to grow up to be someone like that?

  10. Mike VandeVelde

    "benefits of digital economy simply have accrued to giant brands like Madonna and Radiohead"

    So what's changed then??

    Let's say I am the mythical starving artist. I have a band. We played some local shows. We got noticed and a label signed us. We cut an album. All of our fans are 110% law abiding and would never dream of "stealing" our music. So a fan buys our CD. I get paid for that? Well no, because when I got signed apparently what I actually got was a huge loan, so it will be quite a while before a CD gets sold that actually sends some money back to me. So a fan gets our CD played on a loop at several local bars / clubs. I get paid for that? Well no, because the performance fees get divided out based on what's popular, and since my little CD gets no air time on the radio / MTV / whatever, I get 0%. I get a cut of the media levy? Nope, same thing. My CD goes ends up in the record company vault and my fans lose access to it, maybe the record company will milk it at some point in the future for some compilation or something, or let someone use it in advertising, maybe some day they send me a couple bucks after getting audited or something, if the fine print in my contract doesn't say I signed away too much.

    So in order to prop up the industry that sorts through hundreds of millions of dollars every year and gives next to sweet fuck all to any artist I give a shit about, I pay tax on blank media, tax on any product sold anywhere any music is playing, inflated service charges to cover all the copyright infringment notice regimes, let people snoop on my internet traffic, taxes to the government to handle all the court cases, and if I have any money left over to buy a CD I still get gouged hollow for it. No thanks.

    "I suspect many musicians, authors, etc would find the current situation slightly easier to take if those who don't pay for their work would stop trying to claim some kind of moral justification"

    If I were to illegally download some music, I wouldn't feel like some kind of Rosa Parks sitting down at the front of the bus, I would feel more like if I stepped on an ant. Who cares. If you say because of that I should get a letter saying cough up thousands of dollars or go to court, or get my internet disconnected, THEN you will start hearing about why that is simply retarded. That is all.

  11. Joseph Lord

    Fundamentally accept the argument one minor point to add

    Apple don't always get a full 30% as profit on iTunes as there is the option to buy gift cards at retail. I would be interested to know what retailers get for these. They enable credit card lacking fans to purchase music on iTunes which would be hard to replicate on a bands own website without significant cost.

    This doesn't fundamentally shift the argument at all but it does place a good reason for Apple and other online distributors not dropping their cut to the point that they would lose money on any of these sales.

    It would also be interesting if there was information about how much artists get from CDs now. I don't buy much music these days (I've got plenty so don't pirate or Spotify either) but when I do I usually find that the CD on Amazon costs the same or less than downloads and is obviously better fidelity than MP3.

    My personal view on copyright is strongly in favour but I also believe that the term should be substantially more limited than it is currently (not just for music either). Somewhere in the 20-50 year range with no dependence on artists death is what I picture. That is the space for free/shared culture, remixing and reusing without much impact on the smaller artists (their material isn't making money after 20 years anyway) and the record companies aren't reinvesting as much in new artists anyway (due to the reasons in the article) and I doubt this would make a substantial difference to that.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Fundamentally accept the argument one minor point to add

      "It would also be interesting if there was information about how much artists get from CDs now"

      He gives you the full picture - it's much more sophisticated, mentions the importance of trickles from mechanical and performance royalties - this side of the artist's bank account is rarely heard.

      But basically, it's like this:

      Richer artists subsidise mid-range artists, and quite generously. In his case, for quite a few years. But in that time he bullt up a few other income streams - a talented bloke.

      In the new, new exciting world of YouTube - some performing novelty teenager gets a few beans from The Man, and anyone on the sharecropping scale below them gets nothing.

      (And you already know why that is)

      This is grim, and unless money changes hands honestly - like it does in the real world - it's going to stay grim.

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: Fundamentally accept the argument one minor point to add

        . . . the importance of trickles from mechanical and performance royalties - this side of the artist's bank account is rarely heard.

        I wonder why that is. Almost everyone gets mechanical and performance royalties so it's not like it's unusual. Perhaps younger musicians don't do studio work as much as in the old days. Still, there are many possibilities for revenue streams. I realize that times change but we used to all teach several days a week, and that provides enough to make up a large part of living expenses.

      2. Daggersedge

        Re: Fundamentally accept the argument one minor point to add

        There are problems with this so-called grim picture.

        First of all, I don't see why richer artists should subsidise mid-range artists, or, to put it another way, I don't see why more popular artists should be forced to subsidise people who might well be striving to compete with them.

        Second, his look at the industry is very US-biased. It's not the same in every place in the world. This matters. He mentioned labour costs in the article, in particular the cost of setting up microphones, etc, before making a recording. I wonder how much the high cost of this labour is down to union rules in the US. The reason I wonder is in the director's commentary of the film Beyond the Sea, Kevin Spacey says that the biggest difference between filming in the US and in Europe was the attitude of the crews. In the US, everyone had a job and that's what every person did - no less, but certainly no more. In Europe, however, the entire crew was willing to help out with anything that needed to be done on the set. This made his film cheaper to make. If something like this operates in the music industry, then it may well be that the cost of labour is artificially high in the US, adding to the costs that small bands or their record labels have to bear.

        Third, making a TV series is at least as expensive if not more so than cutting an album, I should think. However, it can and is done with great regularity here in France where I live. These series appear on both the web and on TV for free. That's right, one does not have to pay to see them. Yet, not only have the same groups been able to produce them, but they have been able to do it for some years now. They make their money by selling T-shirts, mugs, soundtracks, novels, other music and bandes dessinées (graphic novels). They also sell DVDs of the series. Yes, DVDs : there are plenty of people, you see, who will buy something for the convenience factor, even though they can get the content for free. The series of which I am speaking, by the way, should you wish to check out my information are: Noob, Flander's Company, and Le Visiteur du Futur, Nerdz, and Karate Boy. One of the series, France Five, even has a following in Japan. The groups producing these have also put out other series, mainly one-season stories (they ended after a season as was intended). They appear on the French channel for Geeks and Otaku: Nolife. Nolife itself runs on a shoestring; it is dependent upon subscriptions to its on-line content, but one can see it on TV for free.

        Living in a world where one provides some content for free and some things around that content for money, is possible. It is more work, of course, than just getting signed by some company who then subsidises you from other people's money.

        The picture isn't grim at all. Take the big money out of the picture for artists and you might just see the passion for the art return.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Fundamentally accept the argument one minor point to add

          "Take the big money out of the picture for artists and you might just see the passion for the art return."

          Take the money out of the picture for cleaners and you might just see the passion for the cleaning return.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Fundamentally accept the argument one minor point to add

            "Take the money out of the picture for cleaners and you might just see the passion for the cleaning return."

            Sorry, but as a comparison, that simply does not work. Who is passionate about cleaning?

            It's not a creative vocation. Look at creative vocations and you will see that the original point does stand...

            1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

              Re: Re: Fundamentally accept the argument one minor point to add

              The original point being made is that instead of doing art for love and if successful money, creators should forget about the money and do it just for love.

              That's pretty clear.

              So it's a justification for removing human rights (aka creative rights) from talented people, made for some unexplained higher purpose.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Fundamentally accept the argument one minor point to add

            The operative word is BIG, not money - cleaners don't have the option of BIG money. Your sarcastic comparison is not valid.

  12. SleepyJohn

    This is grim ...

    "It's fucking grim," pontificated Flowery Lowery, in words of a considerable number of syllables and some very strange references. "I just went into the internet, and even though "I like to think that I am uniquely qualified" in all things musical, technological and business-wise, the future fell slap, fucking bang on my head. And it fucking hurt. I must go and tell The Man."

    "Oh," said Fox Orlowski, "I think I must be in the wrong story. Perhaps things are different in the future. In the olden days I would have offered to take you to The Man, then I would have eaten you. But here I am giving you free publicity. And allowing all these people to read my column for nothing. And they've invented penicillin. And you can drive about London without following a man with a red flag. And there's this guy called Google who will give you any amount of incredibly valuable information for nothing. It's really quite amazing; and I thought the past was a fairy tale."

    "Oh," said Flowery Lowery. "The future is different from the past then? Is that why my head hurts? Does that mean we have to think differently? This is all very confusing for someone who is as skilled and uniquely qualified as I am."

    "I know," said Fox Orlowski, "My head hurts too."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is grim ...

      You may think you are reading for free: you may even be blocking the adds --- but The Register is a commercial entity, with staff and all, even maybe a marketing manager. One supposes that a, they get paid and b, it is not a co-operative commune, but has person[s] providing capital and earning something from that.

      You then go on to make arguments about, err, something. Don't know what. Not much to do with anything really.

      Perhaps you're a marketing manager.

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: This is grim ...

      SleepyJohn - All your posts are pretty obsessively about one subject. They are either about how less money for creators really means more money, or how they should just shuddup and settle for less.

      Banging on about the idiocy of the entertainment industry is a given. It's like banging on about the the sun coming up. It's standard chip-on-shoulder stuff.

      What Lowery's talk does - with facts and figures - is show your dream of artists being better off is a myth. This is self-delusion on an epic scale. You may hold these views for noble reasons, but reality bites you in the end.

      From your post, I can tell Lowery bit pretty hard.

  13. Ole Juul

    Reality check

    I respect that some (most?) people accept a recording as "music", but does anybody "play" any more? Many of us who have spent a lifetime learning how to actually manipulate a physical instrument in real time don't usually see a recording as having much musical worth except for study purposes - certainly not compared to the real world experience of hearing an actual performance or, even better, being part of one. I pity the poor people who are reduced to living with music coming through a speaker. That is somewhat reminiscent of pornography compared to a real relationship. It's not wrong, but it's not something to aim for either. It's time to re-evaluate what music is. I think it is about real people playing music and not about inferior and infinitely reproducible copies of the original event.

    Now the problem of how we are going to support musicians (and we must) is certainly a real one, but to my way of thinking, collecting money for cheap recordings doesn't seem like a legitimate way.

    Joke icon, because the current music business is a joke.

    1. Daggersedge

      Re: Reality check

      Why *must* we support musicians? I can see why fans of particular musicians might wish to do things to support the musicians they like, but musicians in general? Why are they a special case over other workers such as programmers, waiters, doctors, secretaries, etc?

      1. Petrea Mitchell

        Re: Reality check

        Is paying musicians for their work a special case compared to paying programmers, waiters, doctors, secretaries, etc. for their work?

      2. Ole Juul

        Re: Reality check

        Why *must* we support musicians?

        I was not clear. There is a problem with the word "music" these days. A lot of it is minimally creative and is purely industrial, and we seem to lump art music in with that. What I was thinking about is that we need to make sure that all creative arts thrive. Society needs to have a healthy dose of purely creative activity in order to seed the future and balance the present. I agree with you that there are many other cases where this can be the case. To my mind mathematics, philosophy, computer science, and other purely academic pursuits would be equally important in that regard. I agree with you that "musicians in general'" are not a special case. In fact so much of what gets referred to in the contemporary discussion about file sharing etc is so minimally creative and derivative that I feel that we should just let the market take care of it like any other product.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Reality check

          I would suggest there hasn't been as much new good music for a long time - at least 20 years.

          What you're saying is that you can't find it - or if you find it you can't recognise it. Which says a lot about you. Yet you have a reluctance to blame your own lack of curiosity or imagination, or conservatism. I suppose it's easier to blame The Man.

          The problem is: all this great new music is being made but the world doesn't reward the creators. It should make them betteroff, but in fact, the old music economy was in many ways much fairer.

          What argument really boils down to is: "Curse these young people with their infernal instruments! They don't deserve being rewarded".

  14. Cpt Blue Bear
    Thumb Down

    He may have some valid points

    But after 24 hours of trying on and off to read what he has to say I confess I didn't make it a third through. He doesn't need an editor, he needs a writer. I realise this is a transcript of a presentation but even reading it out loud doesn't make it any easier to get through.

    The first attempt ground to a halt at the complaint that artists are working harder and longer and getting paid less - well so is everybody else, sunshine. It's tough all over and you are not a special case 'cause you are a "creative".

    Second attempt fell foul of his repeated claims to have been so hip to everything he did it before any of it was hip.

    Third go I dozed off while counting straw men.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: He may have some valid points

      I'm with you on the writer front. The guy might be a good musician but he can't write prose for toffee.

      TBH It reads like a series of commentard postings, not all by the same person.

      There is some interesting info on how artists currently (do/don't) get paid, and how they (did/didn't) get paid in the past, but it is fairly buried.

      Fundamentally I suspect that the problem is very few people respect copyright, and the general reasons for that are fairly clear. The 'big media' don't respect it much either, and they've successfully lobbied for ridiculous copyright length - the latter stifles creativity because you can't bounce off existing works until they're truly ancient.

      The fundamental problem is one of respect - it's basically been lost.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: He may have some valid points

        It was a transcript of a talk illustrated by slides.

        Not a piece of prose.

        Surveys show people do respect copyright in practice and in principle. Surprisingly so. But one of the Great Immutable Laws of the Interwebs is that when the conversation turns to paying creators, somebody always changes the subject to copyright terms :-)

        A 1,000 year copyright term means nothing if nobody gets paid.

      2. auburnman

        Re: The problem of respect

        The respect was never there in the first place. That's not a diss on the public, it's just how human nature works.

        I forget the source, but there's a study that suggests people find it difficult or impossible to properly empathise with anyone outside their circle of immediate friends/family/acquaintances, which makes sense. I throw some rank disgusting shit in my wheelie bin without a care for my poor binman who has to deal with it after it has festered for 3-4 days. Not because I'm a bad person, but because he's not a person in my mind - he's an abstract concept. We don't care about strangers, and that's a necessary defence mechanism to get us through life. Children starving in Africa is a terrible thing, and we all wish it could be sorted out but it doesn't keep us up at night. I was sad when Douglas Adams died an early death, but it didn't hit me like losing my Granddad did.

        I've gone on a bit with the examples so I'll try to drag it back to the point - not caring about strangers is the natural order of things, not a sign of society gone to hell. This is desirable in that we can get through the day without heart and stress medication, and undesirable because it means we can be (literally) unthinking dicks to strangers. In terms of artists we only respect them when we consciously remember to. This means we have to put meaningful and proportionate structures into place in law and society to manage our own undesirable behaviour (and nurture our good behaviour!), and when those structures are meaningful and proportionate they will enjoy the general support of the populace. As the recent polls show,the public is in favour of protecting copyrighted works.

        The problem is 70+ year copyright terms, billion dollar fines and threatening to cut off people's internet with scant proof doesn't nearly cut it in terms of meaningful and proportionate. Yes, "the Man" should send letters to known infringers; but be ready to back down and apologise if it turns out to be someone's granny, and don't threaten to cut off their internet (practically a necessity for modern life and this turned out to be a fairly empty threat anyway.) Yes, take repeat offenders to court; but push for community service or the like for young/poor offenders. PROPORTIONATE fines for infringers who can afford it and are just stingy; jail time for counterfeiters who make a living selling other people's creations. Meaningful and proportionate.

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