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ARTISTS MAKE LOUSY SLAVES
December 17, 2012 8:56 AM   Subscribe


 
I will say, in all sincerity and, full disclosure, I did read the candle factory link:

wat?
posted by Windopaene at 9:03 AM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dylan, controversial voice and all, would have written a scathing song.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:08 AM on December 17, 2012


I am part of a revolution that will watch your children grow up listening to soft porn, being raped and abused by a porn-and-contraband-drug machine that uses music as a blackmarket portal for its sausage-grinding wares; that will consume your own children and then, heartbroken at their funeral you can reflect back through your guilt and wonder if you caused your own misery and this puny little rant will come back to your rememberance like the prophetic cry of anguish that it is.

I really hope she was drunk/stoned out of her gourd when she wrote this, because otherwise I'm kinda worried for her. This is frankly looney.
posted by yoink at 9:09 AM on December 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I really hope she was drunk/stoned out of her gourd when she wrote this, because otherwise I'm kinda worried for her. This is frankly looney.

From the David Lowery letter:
I routinely receive a “notice of intention to use” my work that is always late. This violates the basic rule of statutory licensing. The “NOI” I receive often comes with a letter2 asking me to log into a website to see if I am owed money by the digital service or how much I am owed. When I go to the website I am asked to “sign” a click through agreement that makes significant changes to the few statutory rights I have. This is the worst kind of trickery and is worse than the worst direct mail campaigns because I can always throw away the junk mail. This trickery involves my life’s work and I’d rather not throw it away.
Yeah I think Michelle Shocked is at the correct amount of being pissed off at routinely getting screwed out of a paycheck being status quo in an industry.
posted by griphus at 9:16 AM on December 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think yoink was concerned about Michelle Shocked claiming that her problems with music distribution will make your kids "grow up listening to soft porn, being raped and abused by a porn-and-contraband-drug machine".
posted by LogicalDash at 9:20 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


i find her assessment to be remarkably clear-eyed.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:22 AM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Again, I can see being pissed off enough to both write and send something like that. It's not as if she doesn't know exactly what she's writing (she refers to it as a "puny little rant") and what effect it will have (none whatsoever, just like any of the other letters written earnestly, or by lawyers.) At least she got some catharsis out of this bit of democracy cosplay by one of the single most compromised divisions of our government.
posted by griphus at 9:24 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It sounds less like it's looney and more like "epic rant". (I am reading it as cursing the children of the people and organizations cheating her out of her legally required compensation.)
posted by rmd1023 at 9:24 AM on December 17, 2012


For the candle-factory-metaphor-averse, here is Michelle Shocked's "bureaucratic approach, void and ineffectual the way you like to give it and get it":

Your audit procedure is patently, pathetically untenable.
Your certification method is riddled with fraud.
Your black box accounting is a party invitation to organized crime.
Your regulation and enforcement history exposes you as having been bought and paid for by the sponsors of this proposed legislation


That doesn't sound very loony. And the "loony" part is prefaced with this: "Because I am a poet, my first attempt is metaphor to describe the proposed changes."

I don't think it's a very good metaphor, and I find the "bureaucratic" approach (i.e., stating facts) much more persuasive, but I don't think it's fair to call her loony.
posted by compartment at 9:30 AM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am part of a revolution that will watch your children grow up listening to soft porn, being raped and abused by a porn-and-contraband-drug machine that uses music as a blackmarket portal for its sausage-grinding wares; that will consume your own children and then, heartbroken at their funeral you can reflect back through your guilt and wonder if you caused your own misery and this puny little rant will come back to your rememberance like the prophetic cry of anguish that it is.

I understand what she's saying here, but, then again, I read a lot of poetry.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:31 AM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Who is licensing Michelle Shocked songs, the Anchorage tourism bureau?
posted by spitbull at 9:32 AM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Shocked has always been a little strange, but her over-the-top furious strategy sure did work to get Forbes and The Register (and I'm sure everyone else in a minute or two) talking about it. Anyway, there's more to go on in Lowery's letter:

1. No Audit: As a songwriter, I have no idea whether I am being paid correctly by any digital service and I am not allowed to audit them. As far as I know, no digital service complies with the rules anyway, so it almost doesn’t matter whether the Copyright Office keeps them the same or changes the rules. This is untenable. When I gave a mechanical license to my record company, I could always audit the label’s mechanical royalty accountings if I chose to do so. Let’s be clear—the new boss is way worse than the old boss. If statements from digital services could be at least as bad as record company accountings, it would be a major step forward.

That's insane. It should be far easier to track digital sales than store sales. There's just no excuse at all. And the idiot at Forbes who wrote this -

...apparently things haven’t worked out all that well since then for her if she’s not making a living wage out of her work. The thing is though, for most of us, not being able to earn enough is a signal to go and do something else. Apparently artistes play be different rules

- needs to get a dictionary and look up "theft." What a ridiculously stupid way to frame the longstanding issue of deceptive accounting and stolen royalties.
posted by mediareport at 9:32 AM on December 17, 2012 [21 favorites]


I am part of a revolution that will watch your children grow up listening to soft porn, being raped and abused by a porn-and-contraband-drug machine that uses music as a blackmarket portal for its sausage-grinding wares; that will consume your own children and then, heartbroken at their funeral you can reflect back through your guilt and wonder if you caused your own misery and this puny little rant will come back to your rememberance like the prophetic cry of anguish that it is.

i'm in love...
posted by xcasex at 9:33 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


mediareport - That item was written by Tim Worstall of Conservativehome.com, so...
posted by marienbad at 9:38 AM on December 17, 2012


I think Lowery (and Mike Doughty, too) are both really smart on this topic. But some other musicians I've seen seem to think this system—widely revered long before the age of Napster as one of the most corrupt and plutocratic there is—owes them a living and a fair shake. It is a shame that these musicians that so many of us trust to make our lives better and provide the soundtracks for our very existence are living in penury, but people like Lowery and Doughty are doing it themselves and doing quite well at it.

It is possible, and she just sounds looney here. She should, by all means, leave this corrupt system and strike out on her own. By crying "occupy" just seems warped and weird in this context. There already is a way to "occupy" this system, and that's to be independent. Sure you may still run afoul of the folks you're working with, but it seems to me you have a better chance of keeping control when your circle is small.
posted by littlerobothead at 9:39 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


But remember, it's the people who AREN'T supporting the current system that are robbing artists.
posted by DU at 9:51 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


crying "occupy" just seems warped and weird in this context

FWIW, Shocked was arrested with Occupy last year and has been part of their Rolling Jubilee fundraising concerts. So maybe not so weird to draw connections between Occupy and a more personal corporate theft.
posted by mediareport at 10:00 AM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


There already is a way to "occupy" this system, and that's to be independent.

Also, the discussion here is about collecting royalties from the companies that owe them to her for the music she made for them in the past. Shocked has done exactly what you propose; she's been recording her own music and making it available independently for years. The issue at stake here is a simple one of forcing the companies she once signed contracts with to fucking honor those contracts and pay what they owe her.

"Occupy" seems about right.
posted by mediareport at 10:05 AM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, um, all that talk about grinding children into sausages and being raped by softporn is great and all, but ... what is her feeling on the actual legislation? What parts are bad, what parts are good? She's too busy with prophetic cries of anguish for small details like that.

Apparently artists make lousy lawmakers as well.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:18 AM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Giving God all the Glory, in Jesus name, AMEN!

The glory of what? This incoherent rant?
posted by thelonius at 10:23 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Michelle Shocked's political analysis is easily as good as her song writing.
posted by LarryC at 10:42 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What parts are bad, what parts are good?

She's pretty clear that the auditing procedure is untenable, the certification riddled with fraud and the regulation and enforcement history negligible, and suggests the "black box" accounting needs to be more transparent. These are things musicians (especially those who signed contracts before the digital age and claim they aren't getting any royalties for digital sales from their back catalog) have been proclaiming for a long time, to the deaf ears of both tech and music companies.
posted by mediareport at 10:44 AM on December 17, 2012


I've always liked Michelle Shocked's music, have seen her live several times over the years, and have always been under the impression -- and think I read somewhere years ago -- that she pretty openly struggles with mental illness (bipolar disorder, maybe?). Am I misremembering that?
posted by mudpuppie at 11:04 AM on December 17, 2012


I'm not saying that she's wrong to be angry or even wrong to write prophetic poetry to express her anger--I'm saying that this particular piece of prophetic poetry sounds frankly looney. William Blake this ain't. Try to actually parse the statement that I quoted and you'll go cross-eyed.

She starts by saying that "she is part of a revolution" --well, that sounds cool. She's gonna shake things up and make things change. O.K. But suddenly its a revolution that will "watch your children being raped." Wait--what the hell kind of revolution is this? Why does she want to lead this revolution of rape-watching? She seems to have forgotten that she began the sentence claiming to be part of a revolution and just jumped tracks to saying that she's the victim of a systemic change that will lead to these unhappy consequences. Well, o.k. But then we have the revolution "consuming your own children" and being heartbroken at a funeral. What? No, wait, she means that the regulators are going to be heartbroken at the funeral of their own children. But, wait, why is it the regulators' children, particularly? Oh, because she's not only forgotten the whole revolution thing, she's forgotten that she's writing to the regulators and she's really just addressing society at large, or, anyway The Squares who are allowing these terrible but rather unspecific things to happen.

And that's just scratching the surface of why this is just an utterly unedited and unfocused brainfart. Prophetic poetry is great. This isn't an example of that, however.
posted by yoink at 11:29 AM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


i thought porn and contraband drugs were totally punk rock
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:35 AM on December 17, 2012


She's pretty clear that the auditing procedure is untenable, the certification riddled with fraud and the regulation and enforcement history negligible, and suggests the "black box" accounting needs to be more transparent. These are things musicians (especially those who signed contracts before the digital age and claim they aren't getting any royalties for digital sales from their back catalog) have been proclaiming for a long time, to the deaf ears of both tech and music companies.

Ironically, I imagine a lot of the people who will skim her comments and say "yay, right on" will think that she's just protesting the very notion of intellectual property. You know--"information wants to be free" and all that torrented jazz. "She referenced the 'commons'--that means nobody ought to pay for anything that's just a digital copy of something else, right?" Given that these are, in fact, complex issues that require very precise and subtle regulatory frameworks to address properly, I doubt that incoherent imagistic ranting was a very helpful intervention in the discussion.
posted by yoink at 11:37 AM on December 17, 2012


"She referenced the 'commons'--that means nobody ought to pay for anything that's just a digital copy of something else, right?"

Strawman, derail. What was even the point of typing this?
posted by Space Coyote at 12:11 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am part of a revolution that will watch your children grow up listening to soft porn, being raped and abused by a porn-and-contraband-drug machine that uses music as a blackmarket portal for its sausage-grinding wares; that will consume your own children and then, heartbroken at their funeral you can reflect back through your guilt and wonder if you caused your own misery and this puny little rant will come back to your rememberance like the prophetic cry of anguish that it is.


This is from the "rant" part of her piece, which, like the candle factory metaphor was framed as "I could try this, but you won't listen."

Best I can figger, The "revolution" is not one that she's leading, but one she is part of as a marginalized and exploited musician. The "machine" is that which the record labels are part of, selling all manner of interconnected and cross marketed products ("porn-and-contraband-drug"), which has reduced music (and art as a whole, presumably) to mere sensory indulgence ("soft porn"), which will be used largely for commercial purposes ("blackmarket portal") to sell kids products and a life of conformity ("sausage-grinding wares"), which will grow even stronger in the generations to come ("consume your own children"), turning them into medicated consumer slaves beyond help ("their funeral"), and when this happens, maybe the supporters of this nonsense will realize what they've sown and reaped, and they'll remember this rant as a warning signal.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:52 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't read the link, just the quote everyone's italicizing above. I think that quote is just a matter-of-fact description of how people obtain music these days (though less so since the advent of Spotify). Is she not just referring to torrent sites being the delivery mechanism for music? Torrent sites that force you to wade through a river of porn to get the album you want? I think this in particular is very clear:

a porn-and-contraband-drug machine that uses music as a blackmarket portal for its sausage-grinding wares
posted by january at 1:33 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What she's trying to point out, yoink, is that the present system of paying for copies of stuff doesn't result in many actual payments to artists; typically, at least in the music industry, most of their money is stolen through fraud and deception.

Since 'we need to pay artists!' is the big rallying cry of the pro-copyright lobby, the fact that most artists aren't actually getting paid is rather critical to the argument. They accuse people who take nothing from the artist as being thieves, while themselves being outrageously mendacious and manipulative.

Unauthorized enjoyment is not a crime, but fraud certainly is.
posted by Malor at 1:45 PM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


In other words: this is just like the banks and their drug money laundering.... if you're the small fry, you can be sued for millions for sharing songs on bittorrent, but if you're a big media company, you can directly steal billions from your signed artists, with precisely zero fear of ever seeing a jail cell.

Separate laws for the powerful is not justice. It is corruption.
posted by Malor at 1:48 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Unauthorized enjoyment is not a crime

Maybe not a crime, but it's certainly not okay.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:02 PM on December 17, 2012


I don't see the correlation between those two links, TFB.
posted by Malor at 3:23 PM on December 17, 2012


Metafilter: A porn-and-contraband-drug machine that uses music as a blackmarket portal for its sausage-grinding wares
posted by codswallop at 3:54 PM on December 17, 2012


> It is possible, and she just sounds looney here. She should, by all means, leave this corrupt system and strike out on her own.

She's been an independent artist with her own label for about a decade. She bought back the rights to her major label releases to reissue them herself in the early 2000s.

Incidentally, she also has an album titled Artists Make Lousy Slaves. That came out in the mid-90s or so. I don't really think you're smarter or more knowledgeable than her about how the industry works.
posted by ardgedee at 4:28 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is she not part of a union? there is screen actors guild etc, this seems the obvious solution. artists ought to get atleast half or more of distribution profit and probably 10% or more gross sales. id sign and or boycott fot similar or such proposals
posted by Shit Parade at 5:58 PM on December 17, 2012


blackmarket portal for its sausage-grinding wares

Man, as someone who makes his own sausage, and hopes, someday, to turn it into a business... I'd really like it if we didn't drag the image of sausage making down into the muck and vileness. I mean, comparing it to what record companies do? I'm pretty sure a judge in the UK would rule that slander.

/finely ground minced beef with delicious seasonings, eaten on a toasted bun with bleu cheese
posted by Ghidorah at 7:56 PM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


january: That's an awesome point. Like everyone who uses the torrents and the tubes (which is to say, just about everyone on the internet), I'm so used to clicking past porn ads that I don't really see them. It's appropriate that a "poetic rant" should make me notice what's always been in front of me: that the process of getting music these days enlists artists into a porn-advertising machine without so much as offering them a cut.

malor: The correlation, as I see it, is that the creepshot crew are engaging in "unauthorized enjoyment," and it's pretty widely acknowledged to be way yucky. Obviously, creepshots are not Exactly The Same as what Shocked is talking about (a music distribution system where pornographers are the only ones getting remunerated). But the principle that unauthorized enjoyment equals no harm done is pretty clearly untenable, as the discussion at the link makes clear.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:01 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dear Hivemind. Can someone please link me to a site where I can download these sausage grinding warez?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:57 AM on December 18, 2012


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