Goodbye Music Industry! Hello Music!

First, thanks to WayneP for the detailed synopsis of a recent "Panorama" where in response to the UK government's crazy plans to curb "illegal downloading", apparently Billy Bragg (along with a handful of other sane musicians) echoed what I've been saying here for a long time, which is, "WISE UP! YOU GREEDY, COKE-SNORTING FUCK-WITS AND GET A BUSINESS PLAN WILL YE!", well, more or less. He was, of course, referring to that sub-genre of society's useless middle-third, "The Music Industry".

Note the word "Industry". They don't even try to hide it! "Industry", for those unfamiliar with our language, is a word used to describe commercial enterprise. it's about labour, and making money (don't ask what happens to it after that). Music, on the other hand, is about "Artistry", which is a different word entirely; it just looks similar.

You see, at some point way back, non-musicians noticed that ordinary people like to give coin to musicians for their talent and hard work (and rightly so), and immediately began devising ways to insert themselves into the process. This form of criminality peaked late in the 20th Century and went by many names; promotion, management, publicity, and so on, scams designed to syphon money people were trying to give to their artists.

Before these scum-suckers got involved, musicians were content to receive the occasional slice of praise and maybe, if they were talented or highly industrious, earn enough to get by. We got to travel, meet people, practice our art. Music, made for the love of it, is real music. Music made for profit, is business; all you need is a few good-looking kids with guitars..

it's not too difficult to sell the idea that armed with no more than average musical ability (which, let's face it, most of us have) and a kick-ass publicity machine, you can get yourself the kind of lifestyle common folk only imagine. It doesn't take lot of babes, drugs, jets, or money to convince the average teenager of anything. Then came generations of not-quite-musicians, folk who if they had to give up shit and suffer for their art, wouldn't bother. Some of us were brought up listening to nothing else. Thank God for the internet!

What the music industry's talentless fools have to realize is that technology has made them redundant, and that it would be far better for everyone on the planet if, instead of emptying the last (yeah, rrright!) of their coffers into government pockets in the hope of terrorizing us all into obedience, they went and got real jobs, or maybe a new business plan.

The facts speak for themselves. People who download music "illegally" spend more money on CDs than people who don't. Twice as much, in fact. it's obvious really, we get exposed to more bands, way more.

Thanks to the internet, interest in music itself is growing, because people are finding all sorts of music they didn't even know existed, new bands, new genres, long-lost back-catalogs pop up every day. Pop music is dying, as music itself becomes more popular. No one gets to be a Rock God anymore. Good. At last, all the artists in the world might get to make a fair living doing what they do best. Wouldn't that be something. Maybe we could all try it.

THIS is why the music industry wants a stranglehold over all new music distribution. They want to take result of decades of cultural and technical evolution; the incredible economies of scale, a vast, lightening-fast publicity machine, near-free distribution channels, and a whole kit-bag of new promotional tools and opportunities; and profit from it. Seeing themselves once again on the outside of a potentially lucrative revenue stream, they want in, quick, regardless of the cost to society.

They want to convert the hard work of hackers and coders and the years spent building online communities, into cash; cash which they can pile up in a small number of offshore bank accounts. Fuck off, is how I feel about that. Only a fool could imagine that passing draconian laws in the hope that we'll all suddenly "comply" would not be a mistake on all levels. Get real! We can already write a new P2P app in twenty lines of code or switch to anonymous networks with a click, and that's before they force anyone's hand! Sheesh!

The music industry knows that if this gestalt shift is left unchecked, the consumers' plastic disk fetish will eventually wane. They know that people will realize that merchandise and other materials are not required for enjoyment of music. it's not something that needs to be seen or held. Without all the packaging and bumpf, what's to sell? The music itself is free, innit. Quality recording equipment is now consumer-cheap. Net-connected talent is everywhere and collaborating freely. You need help, you got it. See where this is heading? All the listener actually needs, is a set of powered speakers (definitely the topic of a future blog... "The Hi-Fi is dead! Welcome to Powered Studio Monitors..")

Artists can now create, promote and distribute their work entirely from the relative comfort of their own homes. The question for me is not whether or not the music industry has a right to chase down royalties, but "Why are they still here?". 2010, oh right, I'm thinking of some time in the future, when we aren't all paying out to be whipped into submission.

The last thing the industry bosses want is their sheep-artists and would-be sheep-artists noticing that outside their "industry" a swelling number of actual artists are leading increasingly rewarding lives. Artists who know fine that it costs a fraction of what the industry peeps would have you believe, to record an album. Artists who realize that a roller-coaster life of fame and fortune is not nearly so good as having an actual life.

Sun Ra didn't need buckets of bling, nor a private jet, even a "record deal" to become one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time. He cut his own albums, did his own thing, for the love of it. And this was Fifty years ago! If it wasn't for the internet, I sure wouldn't have been able to hear even a fraction of his amazing music, nomatter how much money I had. And you wouldn't hear mine. And so it goes..

The industry sharks don't just want you paying for their latest generated pop garbage, they want to cut you off from all media content that isn't funneling directly through them, collecting royalties. Fortunately, as consumers, we have the power to change all this. Start here.

for now..

;o) Cor

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