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Did you hear Michael Greene's speech at the Grammys?
February 27, 2002 11:49 PM   Subscribe

Did you hear Michael Greene's speech at the Grammys? At first it seemed like it was going to be just yet another recording industry weasel with an obligatory goatee congratulating himself on stage. But it quickly turned into a lesson on the harms of the illegal Internet downloads. "This illegal file-sharing and ripping of music files is pervasive, out of control and oh so criminal. Many of the nominees here tonight, especially the new, less-established artists, are in immediate danger of being marginalized out of our business. Ripping is stealing their livelihood one digital file at a time, leaving their musical dreams haplessly snared in this World Wide Web of theft and indifference," says Greene. Was this appeal-cum-address effective or appropriate? Were you more sympathetic to the RIAA or artists afterwards?
posted by emptyage (78 comments total)

 
It felt more like a lecture from a gym coach than anything else. Even Numair, Stephanie and Ed looked decidedly uncomfortable when CBS cut to them. It had the opposite effect on me that I think they intended.
posted by emptyage at 11:58 PM on February 27, 2002


I couldn't disagree more with that pandering, playing-the-victim crap. Were Greene grounded in reality, he would realize that many of his 'new, less-established artists' are gaining wider acceptance BECAUSE of the Internet and filesharing. Who in their right mind would go out and buy a new album sight-unseen (or sound-unheard, as it were) when they can be offered the ability to listen to it in part (or in its entirety) and thus make an informed decision based on the merit of the album itself? Not I.

This, however, is exactly what record labels fear. People will realize that the recording industry is trying to shove a coaster down their throats with only one or two worthwhile songs (if that) and won't rush to the stores blindly to buy something with which they'll ultimately be disappointed.
Personally, my album-buying habits have increased tenfold since the advent of MP3s for just that reason. I'm able to discover new artists and try new albums that were previously unavailable, offering me a veritable cornucopia of new music that suits my tastes.
posted by Danelope at 12:01 AM on February 28, 2002


On a final note, does this guy actually expect the world to believe that kids are sitting around downloading six thousand MP3s per day? If I sat on Morpheus and WinMX for 72 hours straight with a T3 line at my disposal, I seriously doubt I could either find or download 6,000 unique songs in the same period.
posted by Danelope at 12:05 AM on February 28, 2002


I am proud to say that I haven't downloaded a single illegal MP3 for some time nor bought any CD on a large record label. And as a musician myself (independent of course) I would like to share my alternative to downloading illegal MP3s.

It's not that I have any sympathy for the sycophants that are the RIAA, nor any particular urge to hit the record companies in the pocketbook, it's just that I've found that for every good song that the major record companies put out (and gets radio play), there are at least 40 songs released on independent labels or songs for which you can get live versions with permission of the band (like Dave Matthews Band, Chili Peppers, etc.). Here's a thought. Instead of sitting in front of your computer all day downloading illegal MP3s of Britney Spears and Staind and whining about fighting the power, why not go out and support your local bands. Gather some friends, and with the near $20 you would spend on a CD, go out and get 4 seats at a local show of whatever you're into. I'm sure you'll appreciate it much more than those who simply spent the money on whatever's on the top 40 right now.
posted by statusquo at 12:21 AM on February 28, 2002


*scribbles furiously on notepad*
Go out.... see... shows.....

Shit, finally I'm getting the real dope on how the insiders do it. What else ya got for us, swami? How'z `bout speakers... two, you think? They sell `em separately, but I'm thinking I should buy the pair, yeah?
posted by dong_resin at 12:56 AM on February 28, 2002


Maybe I hit the post button a bit fast on that last one, statusquo, but good god was that pandering.

With shitty music service RealOne subscriptions up to 500,000 in only 3 months, a lot of people seem to be cattle-like enough to believe that if Officials tell them something is wrong, they'll adjust their behavior, so someone is listening.
posted by dong_resin at 12:57 AM on February 28, 2002


Here's a thought. Instead of sitting in front of your computer all day downloading illegal MP3s of Britney Spears and Staind and whining about fighting the power, why not go out and support your local bands.

chill with the jumping to conclusions already.
posted by zerolucid at 1:08 AM on February 28, 2002


Just a point, I don't think counting RealOne subscription numbers is a good way to measure the impact of these warnings on the consumer. RealOne goes far and beyond an online music service, in fact I would even go as far as to say most of those 500,000 don't ever use RealOne for this purpose.
posted by brian at 1:10 AM on February 28, 2002


When I head that 500,000 figure ( on NPR's Marketplace real audio link, iorny duly noted), it was used to describe the increase in people downloading songs. To be fair, I've never, and probably will never, go anywhere near it, so I don't truly know what it has to offer.
posted by dong_resin at 1:32 AM on February 28, 2002


What's worse is TiVo supposedly will offer music and videos via RealOne in TiVo 2.
posted by riffola at 2:04 AM on February 28, 2002


Another thing to note is RealOne is also being pushed by AOL in it's client.
posted by riffola at 2:06 AM on February 28, 2002


Many of the nominees here tonight, especially the new, less-established artists, are in immediate danger of being marginalized out of our business.

Yeah right. My belief is that the reason we've seen an increase in mainstream music targeted at girls age 12-15 is because they tend to be naive and the demographic least capable of downloading things for free, beyond the insecurities that age group suffers.

Besides, if these bands are nominees at the Grammys, they're already set for success. No one can say there's any less corruption in the Grammys than there is in Olympic skating.
posted by Mach3avelli at 2:54 AM on February 28, 2002


Do you really think girls between 12-15 ain't downloading free MP3s? Methinks you are incorrect. The only genie still in the bottle is Christina Aguilera.
posted by owillis at 2:58 AM on February 28, 2002


Oi dong_resin ! Didn't you have a pop at me about sarcasm the other day on MeTa?

I can't point to the thread, coz it has been deleted so if I have the wrong man, sorry. But I don't think I have.
posted by Frasermoo at 3:07 AM on February 28, 2002


Before Napster I bought 1 or 2 CDs a year.

During Napster the world of music was opened to me and I bought 1 to 2 CDs a month (I sure as hell don't have time to waste hours collecting and burning music).

Since Napster was neutered and the RIAA became jerks I've bought 1 CD - and that was direct from a local "unknown" musician. I cannot stomach supporting the RIAA in any way, shape or form.
posted by fleener at 3:45 AM on February 28, 2002


RealOne is probably counting ALL customers, not just the non-cancelling ones. I paid for a month of RealOne so I could do a review of it and Pressplay for my web site. After the review was done, I cancelled. They're probably still counting me.

As for the RIAA, no I have no pity for them. They've gouged the customer at market over and over again, and have abused monopoly powers, and have used collusion to keep prices highly inflated, while at the same time putting out the same stuff over and over and over again. While their content is there decision, using market power and a combined entity like the RIAA to do price fixing, is wrong, and possibly illegal, as is indicated in this court order.
posted by benjh at 3:48 AM on February 28, 2002


Yeah, I will cry about newly established artists being marignalized out of the business due to MP3 activity as soon as the music companies stop marginalizing their artists with low profit percentages and stupidly high CD costs.

Seriously though, I don't download MP3s all day nor do I buy CDs. Too expensive. 10-12 songs for 15 bucks or more? No thanks. *turns on radio*
posted by xyzzy at 3:48 AM on February 28, 2002


you have radio stations in your area that deliver quality programming? I'm jealous.
posted by atom128 at 4:30 AM on February 28, 2002


I buy CDs of any artist whose MP3 I enjoy listening to. Even on a poor linecooks income. Mr. Greene can go fuck himself, he doesn't speak for every file-sharer when he calls us thieves. Many, however are just thieves, never buying any CDs that aren't CD-Rs.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:32 AM on February 28, 2002


Yeah, I do. It's called "digital cable." =) It's amazing. When I like a song I just have to look at the TV to see who it is. There is no asinine chitchat and not a single ad to be found. I am not forced to suffer through endless 10th caller contests. It's great.
posted by xyzzy at 4:37 AM on February 28, 2002


I've always been sympathetic to the artists. Never the RIAA. And I will not stop downloading my mp3s.
posted by tomorama at 5:11 AM on February 28, 2002


If someone will please forward me Radiohead's mailing address I'll gladly send them a check for the $.40 cents they would have received had I spent $17.00 dollars on their cd rather than just download it. I haven't bought a major lable cd in over 2 years and I don't ever intend to again - I support local artist and underground lables - but I will not support the RIAA and other corporate terror groups ever.. never, never, never never. These guys are scum and they give the artist a bad name...
posted by wfrgms at 5:27 AM on February 28, 2002


Didn't you have a pop at me about sarcasm the other day on MeTa?

Surprisingly Frasermoo, when I sniped at you for being sarcastic, I was, in fact, being sarcastic, because I am, so often, sarcastic myself....

I keep making these dumb, multilayered metajokes that nobody can be bothered to get, because I naturally assume everyone else reads my own crapy comments as much as I do.

I have to get out more.
posted by dong_resin at 5:42 AM on February 28, 2002


*yawn*

sorry..what?
posted by Frasermoo at 5:50 AM on February 28, 2002


Something about Michael Greene's speech, wasn't it?
posted by dong_resin at 5:58 AM on February 28, 2002


I love the photo in the original article, with the caption "Recording Academy President/CEO Michael Greene chats with kids downloading music in WebCentral ".

Uh, no. CEO Michael Greene talks at kids downloading music. Kids downloading music pay absolutely no attention to Michael Greene CEO, ignore him in hopes that he'll just shut up and go away.

The whole issue in a nutshell on their own website. And they don't even notice.
posted by Grangousier at 5:58 AM on February 28, 2002


My problem is that the music I've been buying recently is *really good*, so I've been listening to it over and over and over and haven't been dissatisfied with my music enough to go out and get more.
posted by Settle at 5:59 AM on February 28, 2002


oops, getting distracted.

The real purchases from kids come about because they idolise theses bands and want to own a piece of them. Through this idolisation, the bands earn promotion from soft-drinks , magazines etc. I think piracy threatens it about as much as my sister threatens a boxing title.

If you take older age groups, yeah we may have a bootlegged copy of the Oasis album, but we're also shelling out £20 for a t-shirt and £80 for a concert ticket where the music sounds shit and the musicians look like jumping tic-tacs.
posted by Frasermoo at 6:05 AM on February 28, 2002


I was waiting for Greene's little lecture to be over when I heard him call it a "life and death issue." Am I the only one who thought he had a lot of audacity to call it that?
posted by allpaws at 6:13 AM on February 28, 2002


another thought:

i really enjoy garage rock and power pop from the 1960s and 70s. due to the fact that few people enjoy this kind of music, it's mostly out of print with the exception of a few greatest hits albums, and the only way apart from downloading it that you can acquire such music is on ebay, at ridiculous prices. (please note that i've seen both of these go for over $75.) since the only money that changes hands in the case of these kinds of transactions goes into the pockets of collector scum and NOT the artists, and given that the situations surrounding these records' commercial unavailability is lack of sales and not subsequent embarrassment or other such regret by the artist, is it worse to grease their palms or to exchange no money to get the music through file sharing?

please note that i was mocked for asking this question when i went up against a so-called cyber pioneer a few years ago (admittedly i didn't word my inquiry well, but the "silver spoon" comment was unnecessary). i'm curious as to what everyone else thinks about this.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:20 AM on February 28, 2002


Audacity? Or an indication of their next tactic? God would have mercy. RIAAmbo won't!
posted by rory at 6:21 AM on February 28, 2002


From the article: "...embrace this life and death issue and support our artistic community by only downloading your music from legal Web sites. That will ensure that our artists reach even higher and, deservedly, get paid for their inspired work."
posted by RylandDotNet at 6:21 AM on February 28, 2002


the grammys were good up to this point. when he started talking i got mad and turned off the tv. there are some artists that i will always buy there cd's no matter what because i love their music...but there are others that only have one or two decent songs, so i'm going to download those and not waste my money on their cd cause the rest of it sucks. sure millions of other peole do the same thing. but there are always going to be a group of devoted fans for every band out there that are always going to buy some band's cd.....so he is wrong and the music industry is not going to collapse just because people download music. hey...someone out there has to buy the cd to rip it to mp3 to be downloaded in the first place.

or you could just ignore the RIAA and listen to independent music, its better than that boyband crap anyway.
posted by hazelmeg at 6:29 AM on February 28, 2002


'Collector scum', pxe2000? So, someone buys an unusual album, keeps it for twenty or thirty years in good condition while every other copy in existence ends up in land-fill, and then offers it for sale and lets the level of demand set the price - and you want to pay them the same amount they paid for it, or the same as the latest top-40 compilation at Tower?

That's pretty rich. Those 'collector scum' are often the ones making your rare MP3s available in the first place.

(And no, I have never sold anything on eBay.)
posted by rory at 6:29 AM on February 28, 2002


Can I raise a practical question at this point?

Are we going to do "Stonehenge" tomorrow?
posted by sharksandwich at 6:29 AM on February 28, 2002


"We asked three college-age students to spend a few minutes with us and down as many beers as possible from easily accessible refrigerators... In just a couple of minutes they have downed nearly 16 beers. That's three kids, folks. Now multiply that by millions of students and the problem comes into sharp focus."
posted by rory at 6:39 AM on February 28, 2002


I couldn't believe he was giving that speech, I thought people would boo him off the stage. No such luck.

Instead of creating truly innovative distribution channels, the labels continue to tighten their grip with their monopolistic business practices. It will be their downfall. The meaning and validity of the 'work for hire' clause in most recording contracts is being seriously questioned and the judge handling the Napster case has begun requiring the labels to prove their artist contracts constitute lawful copyright control instead of unfair monopoly.

Support Recording Artists Coalition, bypass the labels by supporting artists directly on the internet and don't buy corrupt music discs.
posted by yonderboy at 6:40 AM on February 28, 2002


Remember:
When you pirate mp3s you're downloading Communism
posted by dchase at 6:45 AM on February 28, 2002


I wrote this last week, about how artists (especially new ones) could circumvent the RIAA altogether. I didn't catch this speech but it sounds like it could have been run past a fact checker at least once, to check the guy's problematic math.
posted by mathowie at 6:52 AM on February 28, 2002


Did anyone else hear that one loud "boo!" during his speech, and several people clap when he said the teens managed to download 6,000 songs?
posted by waxpancake at 6:56 AM on February 28, 2002


Anybody remember this band that used to let people record ALL of their concerts, basically promoting this whole subculture of people who traded recordings of their songs for years and years. You know, non-licensed recordings. And this band promoted this policy. And I seem to remember that the band made millions of dollars anyway, from both concerts and actual record sales. I believe they were called The Greatful Dead or something. Anybody heard of them?
posted by bob bisquick at 7:09 AM on February 28, 2002


RIAA and the suits at the major labels need to realize that its the inflated CD costs that are a big contributor to the so-called piracy.

I'm not into ripping, and I believe that copyright laws are important, but I don't understand why CDs cost about the same as when they were introduced almost 20 years ago.

(Oldtimer reminiscence follows - feel free to roll eyes) When I was a music-crazed youth, I spent many a happy hour transcribing LPs to cassette. Mainly for playback in the car, mostly from my own LPs, occasionally friends'. Don't remember any big industry uproar about it - "home taping" was, I believe, written into copyright law. What's the big difference?

New releases commonly sold for $4-6 bucks in the mid-70's - the packaging was actually legible - the artwork suitable for framing... *SLAP* (Sorry)

pxe2000 - Emmit Rhodes - I remember his solo record. He sounded more like Paul McCartney than Paul McCartney himself. Scary.
posted by groundhog at 7:18 AM on February 28, 2002


I have to get out more

You can always go out and support your local bands, dong_resin ;)

Most of the bands to which I listen support recording and trading their music. And with many of those bands I still buy all of their CDs. Personally I agree with Matt, and would like to see a viable pay-per-download service (or two or three) for those people who do want to buy a song they like without spending all the money for what might be crap on the rest of the disc. I would prefer that format not have to be in a compressed format, but that's another issue.

And ridicule statusquo if you want, but they are correct. If one is going to get on a soapbox and talk about supporting artists, one better be willing to back it up with more than giving the artist a few pennies by buying their CD, and go and see them play. Not everyone who has talent has a record contract, and many people who don't have talent do.
posted by terrapin at 7:22 AM on February 28, 2002


New releases commonly sold for $4-6 bucks in the mid-70's - the packaging was actually legible - the artwork suitable for framing...

You could also skin up on one. Ever tried to skin up on a jewel case?

Oh, yeah, and in the late 70s/early80s there was a whole "Home Taping is Killing Music" scare, at least in the UK. But it wasn't. And it didn't. So that's all right.
posted by Grangousier at 7:23 AM on February 28, 2002


Many of the nominees here tonight, especially the new, less-established artists, are in immediate danger of being marginalized out of our business. Ripping is stealing their livelihood one digital file at a time, leaving their musical dreams haplessly snared in this World Wide Web of theft and indifference

The pot calls the kettle slightly off-white. This angers me greatly and I may be a little sanctimonious, but for the love of God, how much did it cost to buy out the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and where can I gets me one of my own? The only reason that the major recording companies have for being concerned with small-time artists getting reamed on the internet is because they were slow to develop a web-based-musician-reaming-infrastructure and are a little behind the curve. It's a brave new world. What they're scared about is that in a worst-case scenario, some 12-15 year old girl will be able to listen to the latest Britney Spears song without mentally associating it with a Pepsi product. Hurry Greene! You've got to get to the Emergency Hug Station before your feelings get hurt!
posted by Hildago at 7:25 AM on February 28, 2002


hey rory, go back home to lorelai.
'Collector scum', pxe2000? So, someone buys an unusual album, keeps it for twenty or thirty years in good condition while every other copy in existence ends up in land-fill, and then offers it for sale and lets the level of demand set the price - and you want to pay them the same amount they paid for it, or the same as the latest top-40 compilation at Tower?
uh, have you never been to a record show? the point is, i get the feeling most record collectors aren't in it for the music. on the one hand one could argue that your average record collector didn't know that -- say -- y kant tori read was going to be worth upwards of $200 at the turn of the decade. when i talk collector scum i'm referring to people like this, who are passing off a copy of said same as the real deal when it is clearly a bootleg, and asking top dollar for an inauthentic item.
Those 'collector scum' are often the ones making your rare MP3s available in the first place.
uh, i'll let you in on a little secret here. they wouldn't make any money if they made their "rare mp3s" available, now would they?

i stand by my original point (which was obfuscated by some gilmore girl) that if so much as a penny from the sale of -- say -- the merry go round record went towards emitt rhodes, i would have no problem purchasing the mylar-bagged copy of the record that sits pinned to the wall at the local record store. i love the music, i just wish all the money didn't go to line the pockets of someone like the guy on the left of this photo.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:26 AM on February 28, 2002


Does he really think I feel sorry for these 'artists'?

I've seen MTV cribs, with their gold-plated bathtubs in their $5 million dollar homes, with their $200K Bentleys, that they all must have..

Please...
posted by eas98 at 7:26 AM on February 28, 2002


Remember: When you pirate mp3s you're downloading Communism

Nowadays, when you donload mp3s you're supporting terrorism
posted by mikhail at 7:28 AM on February 28, 2002


No offense to the masses here, but I definitely do acknowledge that napster and its decendants have significantly altered my music-buying patterns and am hard-pressed to see how those of you who are doing so can defend themselves from up on high, as if the record labels are the only "evildoers" (aside from the terrorists, of course, Mr. President). In deference to my comments yesterday on privacy, I don't feel like going into just how much music I've downloaded, but it's enough to feel some guilt.

Yes, I too can cloud the issue with fuzzy rhetoric about how bands aren't being paid well enough anyway, or any of the standard arguments about how the record labels are screwing the world, but as a content producer myself, I can't deny my (uncomfortable) complicity in the violation of copyright. I know I'm doing it, I don't feel great about it, but it's a simple economic decision - I'd rather pay nothing than something.

I find some solace, as it were, in thinking that these are the golden days of music (distribution, not content), and that five, ten, twenty years from now, long after a mechanism has been set in in place whereby all music is downloaded for pay (and if you think there's no such thing coming, you're crazy), we'll all remininsce about those wonderful times when music was free. At that point, however, I'll still have a huge stockpile of Britney to listen to.

People talking incessantly about how equitable this all is, and how there's nothing morally wrong with downloading music because "they're being screwed anyway, etc.," seem all too willing to forget the lessons of the so-called dot-com implosion which seems to have reminded us all that you can't get something for nothing.

On an unrelated note, was anyone else tempted to start a "blogging the grammys" thread last night? I wanted to - I had many thoughts I would have liked to discuss - but did not for fear of being shouted down. Is it too late?
posted by Sinner at 7:33 AM on February 28, 2002


[thread hijack]

my dad had emitt rhodes's self-titled first album on cassette in the car when i was ten. we used to listen to it when we went out to watch the planes take off. i have many happy memories associated with it, many of which have little to do with mccartney.

of course, the scary thing is that i've played that for people now who seem to think he's robert schneider from the apples in stereo. go figure.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:42 AM on February 28, 2002


pxe2000, if you're 'referring to people like this', then why not say so in the first place. Yes, I've been to record shows, and know the type to which you refer, but didn't immediately associate the term 'collector scum' with such people - I associated it with people like me, who collect records to listen to, not to sell. As have others I've known with huge record collections. Just be a bit more careful with your use of the word 'scum' is all I was suggesting.

And I can't really see how an mp3 floating around the net on AudioGalaxy or Morpheus or whatever is going to help a specific collector (scum or otherwise) to sell his or her wares on eBay. The collectors I've known who put rarities on the web do it to share them with fellow fans.

I'll ignore that stuff about 'some gilmore girl', as I don't know the TV show, don't know the actress, and don't even belong to the same gender. But thanks for the personal snipe, anyway; much appreciated.
posted by rory at 7:50 AM on February 28, 2002


Sinner said: Yes, I too can cloud the issue with fuzzy rhetoric about how bands aren't being paid well enough anyway ... I don't feel great about it, but it's a simple economic decision - I'd rather pay nothing than something.

I think you're missing a point. I personally - and I think many people, possibly a majority - buy more CDs now than I did before I could download MP3s. Sales of CDs went significantly up after Napster became popular (on the order of 8%, if I remember correctly) - at least a little of that money goes to the artists. So-called "piracy" has arguably raised profits and allowed artists to be better compensated, with (and this is somewhat important) no increase in marketing or distribution costs to the sellers.

Exactly how is downloading MP3s hurting the artists? The only harm is to the RIAA and the big record companies - and I for one won't weep for those jackals.
posted by RylandDotNet at 7:52 AM on February 28, 2002


The really subversive thing would be for people to write and record their own music and share it, and use some sort of collaborative filtering to find the "good" stuff. Yeah, that sort of happens, but not on a wide scale.

I've purchase two cds on half.com since napstering.
I've probably burned 10 cds that I never listen to.
posted by mecran01 at 7:52 AM on February 28, 2002


uh, i'll let you in on a little secret here. they wouldn't make any money if they made their "rare mp3s" available, now would they?

Okay, sorry, I misread you there; thought you said 'if they didn't make their rare mp3s available', i.e. collector-scum were making mp3s available to shill their stuff. But my point was, it's the collector fans making these rare mp3s available, and in bandying about terms like 'scum' you appeared (in your first post) to be attacking them.
posted by rory at 7:56 AM on February 28, 2002


Sorry to draft a second novel here midthread, but this makes me think about the oft-discussed impending death of the album. Unlike many , I'll cop to enjoying the latest Jimmy Eats Nickelback 20 shitty-disposable-pop-song-of-the-month enough to download it, listen to it for a week and then delete (or archive) it, but never to buy it. Well, where does the record-buying public get these bands (which are undeniably pushed for a one-and-done single that sells an album), and really any others without the marketing muscle of labels.

Let's assume that the changeover from albums back to singles occurs soon (and technically, I think it's all over but the shouting - albums are pushed as a vehicle for singles, now, but there seems to be a lot ignore-the-man-behind-the-curtain to it, where you're supposed to pretend you're not buying just that one song).

Further, let's say it happens in the best indy-rock manner and the record companies all wither away. Well, how does everything work from there? I know we're all supposed to be above the pandering of marketers, but without such, don't we wind up with a sort of musical Tower of Babel? If you Strokes/Hives/Magnetic Fields fans out there in say, Oregon really think you'd have heard about the band without the apparatus currently in place and financing through record company coffers, well, I think you're likely mistaken.

The Grateful Dead, Phish and Ani are all exceptions that prove the rule. Unless we acknowledge that musicians like, say, freelance writers, have no inherent right to wealth, celebrity and stature and may also need to work a day job, I can't see how many bands at all could transcend geography as they can (and do) now.
posted by Sinner at 8:00 AM on February 28, 2002


It's clear that the RIAA must change its business model, but they have no idea what to replace it with. And with respect to the previous post by mathowie, I would like to take his suggestion one step further.
Try subscription. I know that I would willingly subscribe to an artist, on a per year basis, for 20-50 dollars, based on the significance of that artist, and the terms of that subscription (how may tracks do I get per year, - mode of distribution, digital , vs. vinyl, etc.) You could even include content (membership at the website, exclusive interviews, lyrics, etc.) and merchandise i.e. deals on shows, t-shirts, etc.. I would pay even more for access to the entire catalog of recordings for that artist.
For example, I bought the new Bob Dylan this year, spent about $18 for the CD. But that’s about all he’s getting from me this year. However, if I had the option to subscribe, he probably could have gotten a lot more.
Of course as far as new artists go, the RIAA could put together package subscriptions, where you pick artists & tracks ad-hoc.
We all love music, and no one really wants to rip off the artist, (well, unless you count Limp Bizkit) but at 12-20 dollars a pop, I get more value from other entertainment options. And that is the crux of the issue. The RIAA will continue to have these problems as long as they deliver a crappy product using an out-dated distribution model.
posted by lilboo at 8:01 AM on February 28, 2002


New releases commonly sold for $4-6 bucks in the mid-70's - the packaging was actually legible - the artwork suitable for framing...

You could also skin up on one. Ever tried to skin up on a jewel case?

On the back of my circa-1976 copy of Bob Marley's "Rastaman Vibration", in very small print, you can read: this album cover is great for cleaning herb! The cover had a nicely textured surface. For some reason, this note is absent from the CD.
posted by groundhog at 8:07 AM on February 28, 2002


I associated it with people like me, who collect records to listen to, not to sell. As have others I've known with huge record collections.
when i say "collector scum" i refer not to the fans, who might have a few goodies stashed away, but people who buy records with the express purpose of selling them later, and who generally make jack black's character in high fidelity something other than a fictitious squealing, hairy windbag. the folks who aren't in it for, you know, the music. kind of like michael greene, but with bad personal hygiene (not saying that you, mr rory, smell bad, but you've been to record shows...).
The collectors I've known who put rarities on the web do it o share them with fellow fans.
bingo. i think most of the collector scum (here meaning people who pass off counterfeit records as the genuine article, sell records for more than "book price" that are later found to have major defects, etc) would be reticent to put mp3s up online because it would take away from their business.

fair?
But thanks for the personal snipe, anyway; much appreciated.
it was the least i could do on such short notice. :)

we now return you to your regularly scheduled thread...
posted by pxe2000 at 8:08 AM on February 28, 2002


not saying that you, mr rory, smell bad, but you've been to record shows...

Hey, three or four times. Been to Disneyland, too, but it doesn't make me a Mouse. :)
posted by rory at 8:15 AM on February 28, 2002


(Also, here's the link to the Forbes.com "death of the album" story I referred to in my second long post above.)
posted by Sinner at 8:20 AM on February 28, 2002


Can I raise a practical question at this point?
Are we going to do "Stonehenge" tomorrow?


Now that is funny.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:25 AM on February 28, 2002


Personally I'm with whoever way the hell up the thread (too lazy to find it) said that they'd gladly send radiohead the $.40 they would have received had they bought the album. Maybe not radiohead for me, but if I decide I like an artist and proceed to download an albums worth of music, or some such quantity, I'd gladly match if not pay them more directly for their work. I would and do also go to concerts for said bands whenever possible because this, as said above as well, is a much better way of supporting them more directly.

As to how bands would/could transcend geography...Just because the RIAA withers and dies, doesn't mean the radio stations go too, right? you still have folks like Clear Channel, or networks of independent radio stations, who have stations across the country and could track songs that, perish the thought!, actually are requested to be played in one market. they can then test the songs by playing them in other markets to see if they get requested. lather, rinse, repeat... In this particular ficitonal utopia, radio stations actually end up playing what people actually want to hear.
posted by srw12 at 8:43 AM on February 28, 2002


does anyone have an MP3 of last nights speak?
I really cant afford to buy the cd.
posted by chokersandwich at 8:50 AM on February 28, 2002


here's the ever-reasonable glenn mcdonald (of the war against silence fame) in a compulsory opinion of the riaa vs. napster -- it sums up a lot of what i'm seeing in here, and is an end that would likely make artists and moguls alike happy. and even rory and i would agree it's a good system! (right?)
posted by pxe2000 at 8:51 AM on February 28, 2002


Here you will find a series of articles about Michael Greene.
posted by user92371 at 9:12 AM on February 28, 2002


My issue with the speech is its context. The Gramys are the platform where artists get the biggest podium with the loudest mic, and there's no way in hell that any of them could get away, in a room full of record execs, with criticizing the RIAA. No matter what the artists think, their labels are screwing them, and the 'remedies' that the RIAA has proposed for internet file-sharing line their pockets even more, but won't save a single up-and-coming artist.

The irony is that the artist who shuns the major labels in an attempt to stem their theft is usually the biggest fan of internet distribution for publicity, and the artist in the RIAA fold is the one who has to slam peer to peer trading to try and recoup a few pennies of the dollars their label is already grifting.

What would you expect to hear at the Grammys?
posted by kfury at 9:20 AM on February 28, 2002


pxe2000, that was a great piece.

kfury, I kept praying that they would play the "your speech is running long, get off the fucking stage" music that they played for everyone else (and which, by the way, sucked).
posted by Sinner at 9:25 AM on February 28, 2002


Sinner: I couldn't find the right stats, but as I understand it, the music industry as a whole sees much more revenue from live shows than from recordings (which make up something like 33% of the total). So if all CD buying stopped overnight - an extreme case - it's not like the musicians would turn to farming or starve quietly. But the RIAA execs might. Shucks.
posted by D at 9:43 AM on February 28, 2002


Sinner quoted ZDnet: "U.S. shipments by record companies slid 10.3 percent, to 968.6 million units in 2001 from 1.1 billion in 2000."

A) Oddly enough, this coincides with the crackdown and emasculation of Napster (whose traffic was down by 60% this time last year) and other filesharing networks.

B) they don't mention the effects of recession and the events of 9/11.

C) even though they're in a "slump", CD sales are still slightly higher today than they were a few years ago, pre-Napster. (See Slashdot, "RIAA Almost Down To Pre-Napster Revenues," Feb. 27)

Sinner said: "While anecdotal accounts (like yours perhaps) can vary against those of people like me, the statistics above corroborate mine."

Here's a couple of news stories with numbers:
Slashdot, "The Truth About File-Sharing", Jan 2, 2000
MP3.com, "The RIAA's Numbers Racket", March 31, 1999.
Jupiter Media Metrix, "Jupiter Finds Napster Users Are 45 Percent More Likely to Increase Music Spending", July 20, 2000

Sinner said: "Well, for starters you're getting their music for free. That's their product, and I'm guessing you don't just send a check straight to the artist every time you download a song."

Well, by the time the music gets to me, it isn't "their product" anymore, the record company owns it. And no, I didn't write a check to the artist when I downloaded the MP3 of their music, but I did write one to Tower Records or Amazon.com or whoever, after I listened to the MP3 and found that I enjoyed it. But...

"The argument that 'well, I wouldn't buy it otherwise' doesn't hold much water for me, morally."

Well, it works great for me. I'm not going to buy an album I don't like, but how am I supposed to judge whether a song or an album is something I like? The only way I can hear a song (other than to download it or borrow it from a friend) is on the radio or in a concert. Well, what if the band I like is never played on the radio? Most bands I like aren't; most commercial radio is crap. What if they don't tour where I live? If it isn't on the radio or being played at a venue where I am, I have to trust reviewers to pick music for me. I don't want to buy a product sight unseen. If I want a toaster, I can go to the store and look at the toaster. If I want a car, I can test drive it. If I want a painting, I can go to a gallery and look at it and decide if it'll look good over my couch. With MP3s, I'm less reluctant to buy a CD because I've heard the music and I know I like it. Before, I'd pass on buying a CD, even if I heard a song from it on the radio that I liked, because I didn't want to risk paying $18 for 10 or 11 songs I don't like to get the one song I like. That may be anectdotal, but I've read a hell of a lot of anectdotes just like that.
posted by RylandDotNet at 9:54 AM on February 28, 2002


kfury: I was thinking myself how the artists there are probably bound by contract not to express an opinion opposing the RIAA on this (though I recall the Grammys got good anti-censorship mileage out of 2 Live Crew a while back).

I did think that setting aside the speech and the horrible technical aspects of the show, the performances were among the best I have seen on the Grammys. I'm the last one you'd expect to see buying an Outkast album, but damn they were great! And all these talented women! India/Alicia/Nelly/Mary J...they made Janet and Britney look like strip-club trash, honey!
posted by troybob at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2002


Just a few thoughts:

1. From what I see, the RIAA comes off presenting itself as if there were no other alternatives - whether this is propaganda bent on self-preservation or whether they really BELIEVE this, I don't know. If they really DO have an inflated sense of self-worth, well, the cemeteries are full of irreplacable people. The internet erases geographical boundaries that the RIAA used to help artists overcome - and personally, I've found more of the music I listen to through word of mouth (whether electronic or in person) than through corporate marketing.

2. When the rules change, you have to question everything - including what is actually considered a 'product' - are digital 'copies' "stealing" only in the sense of supposedly depriving a copyrighted work of POTENTIAL income, and who wins when you can provide 'valid statistics' on any side or trend you wish?

It's a 'big picture' issue and the details will shift around and be debated back and forth until the 'new' big picture is in place. Personally, and with no statistics to back me up *grin*, I just can't see how the 'new' big picture will include anything like the RIAA HAS BEEN. But until that shift is complete, this will be a very interesting drama. ;-)
posted by thunder at 10:10 AM on February 28, 2002


from the SF Gate Morning Fix, via a music-making mailing list I'm on:

>"You little punk-ass kids keep this up, and I won't be able to make my
>Hummer payments," Greene should've added, wagging a finger, secretly
>longing for the time when a very drunk David Hasselhoff serenaded him in
>his hot tub and he felt his first real pangs of genuine love.
posted by Dean King at 11:01 AM on February 28, 2002


This is a cut n paste of what I wrote about this last night:

Perhaps you the industry should be doing more than offering half-assed, undesirable ways of downloading music that end up more expensive than buying a physical product with lower sound quality and more restrictions on what devices it can be played on. How about a system where downloading tracks is cheaper than buying a physical CD? How about a system that offers sound quality as good as a CD? How about a system that compensates the songwriters and performing artists fairly? How about a system that offers a good selection of tracks? Offer a good product and people will be lining up to buy it. Leave a system in place where consumers can not buy music in the format they want it in, and many will download music in that format. Perhaps if the big labels tried to understand what their consumers want instead of trying to force something on us, they could spend less time complaining and more time supporting new artists.
posted by andrewraff at 11:02 AM on February 28, 2002


RylandDotNet: A) Oddly enough, this coincides with the crackdown and emasculation of Napster (whose traffic was down by 60% this time last year) and other filesharing networks.

... and the increased visibility of such services thanks to the Napster case, as well as the concomitant rise of Kazaa, Morpheus, AudioGalaxy and others too numerous to mention. Not to mention the related rise in sales of cd-r drives and media. Admittedly, that's a similar problem, but not the same one.

RylandDotNet: B) they don't mention the effects of recession and the events of 9/11.

True.

RylandDotNet: C) even though they're in a "slump", CD sales are still slightly higher today than they were a few

I'll take these numbers on faith, but still feel pretty comfortable saying that next year they're more likely to decline than rise, especially given that questionable-in-your-opinion RIAA figure.

RylandDotNet: Here's a couple of news stories with numbers:

Again, forgive me for not going to (re-, in this case) read those articles, but look at the dates: the most recent is two years old and at that point, IIRC even RIAA figures suggested that record sales were still rising. Now they don't (I think that's because among other things cd-burners and portable mp3 players have become sufficiently mainstream that the average user can use them. Previously you would hear the song, only be able to listen to it on your computer, then have to buy the CD to listen to it any other way. Not so anymore. The technology enables piracy.

RylandDotNet: Well, by the time the music gets to me, it isn't "their product" anymore, the record company owns it.

This is semantic at best. It is still their product and they still would/should receive some payment if it were from a record-store sale .

RylandDotNet: And no, I didn't write a check to the artist when I downloaded the MP3 of their music, but I did write one to Tower Records or Amazon.com or whoever, after I listened to the MP3 and found that I enjoyed it. But...

Well sure. And what if you didn't like it? Do you still write the check? Or if you're among the beknighted few, what about the millions who download crap that they wouldn't otherwise listen to, or download stuff they love so that they don't have to pay for it? Do you really think that no one is that, well, rational (if immoral?)?

RylandDotNet: Well, it works great for me. I'm not going to buy an album I don't like, but how am I supposed to judge whether a song or an album is something I like?

This is where it gets a little tricky. Yes, many retail merchants, etc., have return policies, where you can return a product that you "tried out." Test-driving a car, or returning ill-fitting clothes, etc. But if you purchase a CD in a store, open it and don't like it, guess what? You can't return it. And that preceded filesharing.

Further,
a: those policies are at the whim of the merchant
b: in many cases - test drives, say - it is a favor permitted by the merchant. But they don't just give you the lease to the car and say "come back and pay if you like it." You, on the other hand seem to be suggesting that you can walk into a store, buy an apple, say, eat half of it, then decide you don't like it and return it.

RylandDotNet: Well, what if the band I like is never played on the radio?

Well, for lack of a better word, tough. This has nothing to do with the argument at hand. Go to a concert, ask your friend, borrow his CD. That, I'm afraid, is not the same as copying his CD and transferring ownership. The lack of radio play doesn't give you license to take their product without permission and make the decision.

RylandDotNet: I have to trust reviewers to pick music for me. I don't want to buy a product sight unseen.

As many people do. I've bought innumerable products on line based on critical reviews and evaluations. That is the bedrock of the commercial internet.

RylandDotNet: If I want a toaster, I can go to the store and look at the toaster. If I want a car, I can test drive it.

Again, neither of these relies on you to actually take the product home and of your own good judgment, decide to return the product in lieu of keeping the copy. If you test drive the car and like it, you have to pay for it. You may choose to delete the .mp3 in favor of either buying or not buying the CD, but that shouldn't be up to you.

RylandDotNet: If I want a painting, I can go to a gallery and look at it and decide if it'll look good over my couch.

Just as you can go to a concert. You can't just download the framed painting, however.

RylandDotNet: Before, I'd pass on buying a CD, even if I heard a song from it on the radio that I liked, because I didn't want to risk paying $18 for 10 or 11 songs I don't like to get the one song I like. That may be anectdotal, but I've read a hell of a lot of anectdotes just like that.

And this is exactly my point. The unwashed masses in this country are not like "us." The online community - especially this one - is not representative of the world at large. By eschewing "commercial radio," which is essentially pop music, which is by definition music.that.is.popular, you're essentially admitting this. You ay have been encouraged to buy a CD by downloading an MP3 - I certainly never said it's impossible - but the vast majority of people downloading music are cheerfully drowning out this moral debate with the rockin' new Creed MP3 they just downloaded.

I have done no work today.
posted by Sinner at 12:03 PM on February 28, 2002


While I'm at it, D:

D: I wouldn't trust the RIAA's own figures here. While I don't think Napster helped increase CD sales, retail figures were dropping before Napster debuted in 1999, probably because of CD-R use and not downloading.

As I said in my post above, I think this is part and parcel of the same problem. It's useless, in my opinion, to speak of one without the other.

D: So-called piracy because digital "theft" is not the same as physical theft - I take the music, but you still have it.

I didn't say anything about physical theft, I called it piracy. Can you name another kind of piracy (the plank-walking variety aside) which is not of physical property? The distinction here is razor-thin, regardless. If you receive a copy but would otherwise have been forced to purchase an original, that qualifies as theft. My whole point here is to acknowledge that instead of putting a pretty pink ribbon on it. Reductio ad absurdum here, but eventually, what happens if the artist only releases one copy which is promptly disseminated to ten people for free? How is the artist being paid here? Just because the current system sucks, a worse one that benefits your (or my) selfish interests more is no panacea.

D: a system that would benefit both artists and consumers is totally feasible right now. It's just that it would cut out the RIAA, obviously, which is why they oppose anything like it with great fervour.

Whether or not they should change their system is not the issue here. First, it's not for you to say, second, it doesn't legitimize theft and third, the issue here is whether it is OK for me to take something with an inherent value which I did not pay for. I don't feel that it is.

D: So if all CD buying stopped overnight - an extreme case - it's not like the musicians would turn to farming or starve quietly. But the RIAA execs might. Shucks.

Don't kid yourself. The marketing muscle behind CDs is the same as that behind tours; they're completely intertwined and inseperable. And besides, if CD buying stopped overnight, eventually, so would file trading. Someone has to buy the original CD. And that's my whole point.
posted by Sinner at 12:21 PM on February 28, 2002


I remember when home taping was gonna kill the music industry.
The RIAA has taken a lot of time and effort to legalize the theft of music and musician's rights. The've been doing it for a long time and they'll keep doing it long after they've co-opted peer-to-peer filesharing of mp3 files.
and we will forget.
we always do.
britney will drop her top at the right point and we'll stare at that for awhile.
posted by mikemonteiro at 2:27 PM on February 28, 2002


No link as yet, but emptyage's first comment is quoted without attribution in the March 1 edition of the Toronto Star (page D15, "Corporate sob story marred Grammys" by Vit Wagner):

"As it was, Greene's untimely diatribe -- described by on online posting as resembling "a lecture from a gym coach" -- not only came across as crassly self-interested, but it took time away from what should have been a less perfunctory tribute to this year's lifetime honourees.."

posted by xiffix at 5:55 AM on March 1, 2002


Here's the full TorStar story (at least for the next few days).
posted by maudlin at 11:02 AM on March 2, 2002


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