ThoughtStorms Wiki


Earlier on this page ...

Could a Free Music community, similar to the FreeSoftware community arise? Might the P2P file sharing culture wipe out commercial music leaving this Free Music community as the main source of music?

Read my general discussion in TheAgeOfAmateurs and TheHilariousTragedy (Especially TheHilariousTragedy/WhatIsFreeMusic)

Also the Information Economy section of NewEconomyCurriculum

There's also a long discussion on I Love Music :


ClayShirky's Big Flip :

Wired, "The Year The Music Dies" :

Andy Oram, Stop the Copying : (See (See also BeatBlog)

KevinKelley agrees :

International Herald Tribune, Pop stars learn to live with Pirates :

(and ILM response :

Robert Cringely thinks you could make a legal downloading company by making all users, shareholders in a public company, with mutualk ownership. All would therefore have the right to backup their own property (the property of the downloading company)

Who's Doin' It?

ILM Threads about free music

See also :


Contrast: InDefenceOfIntellectualProperty)

Quora Answer : Why isn't music offered for free to a greater degree, like apps, news or video content often are? Why is the music industry so set on the business model of selling music when there are a plethora of other ways to monetize music?

Dec 16, 2013

Mass producing a trivially cheap object with a huge markup because of the pattern of data on it is a fantastic business model if you can get away with it. The industry don't want it to go away because they can't think of an anything that would generate a anything like as much profit for as little work for them.

Meanwhile, the government has been captured by those of a propertarian tendency and are incapable of thinking of changes to the law which would actually roll back rather than extend property rights, so won't make the legal changes that would help kill off this zombie business model.

Update : I'm getting into some arguments here on this question. Especially from the "musicians need to eat" faction, for whom I started giving graffiti artists as a counter example. I started writing some long explanations in their comments, but it's better to add those here :

The reason I'm using this comparison (and making such an issue of this) is because "musicians need to eat" is a very quick and simple argument to make, with an initial plausibility, but I want people to really think it through carefully ...

Today society is arranged to treat music as a commodity. We have increasingly draconian laws in place to police and protect the idea of music (or films etc.) as a type of property. New world-wide trade agreements are being drafted to advance these laws across the world, outside public scrutiny and beyond public discussion. They bring in increasingly dramatic punishment: disconnection from the internet, fines, prison time for people who help other people share files between themselves. They require increasingly intrusive surveillance. For the government to police piracy as successfully as they and the music industry want, they'll eventually need to have access to and control over everything you put on your computer, and everything you use your computer for. (A high price to pay in terms of liberty. A government that knows everything you think, say and write, in real-time, is a government which effectively can't be opposed.)

All of this is being done in the name of the poor, starving artist. Despite the fact that many artists receive very little from the trade in CDs or from subscriptions to legal streaming services.

Session musicians receive nothing in royalties. Musicians who sold the copyright of their work outright receive nothing. Many musicians work on conditions of simply providing a service. And like all services they're paid for their time. Just like any other kind of worker. The guy on the production line in the car factory doesn't get a royalty every time someone rents their car out on RelayRides.

Now it would be nice to think that we want to treat the musician as a special case because we think that music is a higher calling, more important to humanity, than all the graffiti artists and car-workers etc. who don't get paid royalties for their work.

But the world isn't really that idealistic. If you look carefully you'll see that musicians ONLY get money from reselling and renting music when they become "owners" of the recording. Not for being the "producers" of it.

It's that system, the one which treats ideas (and non-scarce resources like digital files) as if they were scarce resources to be owned and charged for, which is being protected here. And only that system. Not artists or art.

The starving musician is simply being used as a cover-story.

The elaboration of that cover-story is that, without a regime of intellectual property, musicians would be unable or unwilling to continue producing music. I point to graffiti artists as a good example of an art-form which does indeed bring happiness to many people. And does so largely without any sort of paid market. It's basically run on the desire to surprise / shock / show-off / express yourself / intrigue others etc. without much money changing hands. (Banksy is a weird exception. Very famous, brings a lot of pleasure to people, and presumably gets a reasonable income from related activities. It's worth noting that he doesn't get (or ask for) payments from people selling reproductions of his work.)

Music survived for thousands of years without modern copyright regulation, and would continue to thrive perfectly well, if it was all "free". (Yesterday at a party at my house several friends and acquaintances sang classic boleros and sambas to an enthralled group. No-one paid a penny.) Art is what humans do for their own pleasure. Today's situation where art is "professionalized" so that we believe only certain people can do it properly (high production standards), and everyone else should become a paid consumer, is a sick perversion our cultural soul.

And it can't be stressed enough that "artists need to eat" is simply a cover story for the perpetuation of that perversion. It's ugly and obscenely self-aggrandizing in that it implicitly denies that car-workers and graffiti artists have just as much need to eat. But that no cosmic justice is going to start paying them royalties on their work. And it's smugly obtuse in not recognising that the special privilege that music has had in this regard is not an example of the superiority of music but simply what's been good for the industrial entertainment complex so far.

CategoryMusic, CategoryAmateurs