Date Archives July 2012

The Business Model is Broken. Pay for Stuff Anyway.

Warning: there are a lot of words to read in this post. The good news is that relatively few of them are mine.

Second Warning: I may get a little preachy here. I don’t mean to preach so much as to testify. This is my story about how I walk the line between supporting a broken model and looting from artists.

Caveat: While I end up disagreeing with David Lowery’s stance, I own (have purchased) the complete Cracker back catalog complete from Cracker through Countrysides.

The Business Model is Broken. Pay for Stuff Anyway.

Background:

An NPR All Songs Considered intern Emily White wrote an online essay about the born-digital experience of being separated from the physicality of music. One of my favorite musicians, David Lowery, who also happens to lecture in music business at the University of Georgia, wrote an eloquent reply about the right of artists to get paid for their craft.

Some salient extracts:

Emily White:

What I want is one massive Spotify-like catalog of music that will sync to my phone and various home entertainment devices. With this new universal database, everyone would have convenient access to everything that has ever been recorded, and performance royalties would be distributed based on play counts (hopefully with more money going back to the artist than the present model). All I require is the ability to listen to what I want, when I want and how I want it. Is that too much to ask?”

David Lowery:

The existential questions that your generation gets to answer are these:

Why do we value the network and hardware that delivers music but not the music itself?

Why are we willing to pay for computers, iPods, smartphones, data plans, and high speed internet access but not the music itself?

Why do we gladly give our money to some of the largest richest corporations in the world but not the companies and individuals who create and sell music?

This is a bit of hyperbole to emphasize the point. But it’s as if:

Networks: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!

Hardware: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!

Artists: 99.9 % lower middle class. Screw you, you greedy bastards!

Congratulations, your generation is the first generation in history to rebel by unsticking it to the man and instead sticking it to the weirdo freak musicians!

I am genuinely stunned by this. Since you appear to love first generation Indie Rock, and as a founding member of a first generation Indie Rock band I am now legally obligated to issue this order: kids, lawn, vacate.

You are doing it wrong. Read More