OK, why can't I embed this music video?
January 19, 2010 5:43 AM   Subscribe

Damian from OK Go, explains why their music videos cannot be embedded. Specifically their new music video for This Too Shall Pass.
posted by zerobyproxy (199 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
"here's the bottom line: EMI won't let us let you embed our YouTube videos."
posted by smackfu at 5:49 AM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


For me, the whole problem boils down to this one quote:

"You no longer give a shit what major labels want you to listen to (good job, world!), and you no longer spend money actually buying the music you listen to (perhaps not so good job, world)."
posted by brand-gnu at 5:56 AM on January 19, 2010 [17 favorites]


Here is an embeddable version.
posted by nitsuj at 5:56 AM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


...you no longer spend money actually buying the music you listen to (perhaps not so good job, world).

If I decline to spend (a lot of) money to obtain music, then I will obtain music from people whose motivation is not (a lot of) money.
posted by DU at 5:57 AM on January 19, 2010 [21 favorites]


Thanks, smackfu.
posted by sciurus at 5:58 AM on January 19, 2010


Fifteen years ago, when the terms of contracts like ours were dreamt up, a major label could record two cats fighting in a bag and three months later they'd have a hit. No more. People of the world, there has been a revolution. You no longer give a shit what major labels want you to listen to (good job, world!), and you no longer spend money actually buying the music you listen to (perhaps not so good job, world). So the money that used to flow through the music business has slowed to a trickle, and every label, large or small, is scrambling to catch every last drop. You can't blame them; they need new shoes, just like everybody else.
I thought the whole point of capitalism was that if you wanted money you had to actually create something. Or somehow add value to the world.
And musicians need them to survive so we can use them as banks.
As far as things that act like banks, they actually have these things called 'banks' now. A few years ago they were loaning money to anything with a pulse. It might be a little more difficult to get a loan now, though.
Even bands like us who do most of our own promotion still need them to write checks every once in a while.
Seems reasonable. You're asking for a music default swap. Insurance in case of a flop. But in the past they did a hell of a lot more then that, they owned the distribution channels and extracted rents from artists who just wanted their music distributed. That's gone, and bands can sell their music directly. In addition to industry veterans like Prince, NIN, and Radiohead probably the biggest band to go without a label is Metric (which is great, btw).

But somehow I doubt the deal Sony is going to give some random band from BFE isn't quite as good as the deal AIG would give Goldman Sachs, despite the fact that both companies suck balls.
posted by delmoi at 5:58 AM on January 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


But where are they gonna find money if no one buys music?

Live performances. Oh wait, where are they (record label execs) going to find money?

I dunno. Plumbing? Auto repair? Tarring roads?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:59 AM on January 19, 2010 [20 favorites]


I read this earlier. It's a press release. It says nothing interesting, is entirely self-serving, and isn't really of interest even to fans of OK Go. The fact that it seems to "speak" to some people makes me kind of sad.
posted by OmieWise at 6:00 AM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Here is an embeddable version.

Dude. Here's an ASCII version
posted by delmoi at 6:00 AM on January 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Basically OK Go is stealing from their publisher.

Yup, this is the world we all dreamed we'd get to live in one day. Good job everyone!
posted by blue_beetle at 6:01 AM on January 19, 2010


The bottom line is: The saxophonist is the hardest band member to hide in a field.
posted by i_cola at 6:01 AM on January 19, 2010 [15 favorites]


The video kinda sucks anyway.
posted by delmoi at 6:03 AM on January 19, 2010


It says nothing interesting, is entirely self-serving, and isn't really of interest even to fans of OK Go.

It's interesting that they defend the record company. AFAICT, they completely bought EMI's argument that making a pittance off of Youtube videos is worth more than the benefits of going viral. Which is remarkable for a band whose success is completely based on their videos going viral.
posted by smackfu at 6:03 AM on January 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


And what have we learned about taking money from a major label, or signing a multi-release deal? Hasn't anything Steve Albini has been saying made an impression?

Kids these days. Expecting autonomy and cooperation from EMI. So cute!
posted by clvrmnky at 6:06 AM on January 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


The bottom line is: PAY US FOR EMBEDS.

Actually a lot of people actually just listen to music through youtube. They have youtube playlists going in the background. Kind of crazy, and of course that means no one ever sees the ads. I read that on some "web 2.0" blog but I've also seen multiple non-technical people do it with my own eyes.

Here they want the best of both worlds, the old school "videos as free promotion (videos as ad)" and the new school "videos as revenue generator (videos as content to place ads on)" Of course it seems reasonable, and youtube probably should put ads on embedded videos if content creators want 'em.
posted by delmoi at 6:08 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The bottom line of the song is: This is what Vampire Weekend would sound like without the talent.
posted by delmoi at 6:11 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the whole point of capitalism was that if you wanted money you had to actually create something. Or somehow add value to the world.

That's how capitalism likes to present itself, but that's not actually the point. The point is to use capital (see!) to make money with as little cost as possible. Making stuff and paying people costs a lot of money. Investing in the stock market though...
posted by DU at 6:12 AM on January 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


Maybe bands need angel and VC investors with less onerous terms.
posted by ryoshu at 6:14 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only thing. THE ONLY THING that I don't like about this is the little edit in the video that's hidden as lens-flare. GRAR! IMPERFECTION MASQUERADING AS PERFECTION!
posted by Jofus at 6:20 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Specifically their new music video for This Too Shall Pass."

"Dieses Video enthält Content von EMI. Es ist in deinem Land nicht mehr verfügbar."
(This video contains content from EMI. It is no longer available in your country.)


You know, every time I run into such an arbitrary limitation, like if someone links to Hulu or a clip from the Comedy Channel, I really really want (in ascending order of preference):

3) A button labeled "I don't like this, please do something about it."

2) A form that allows me to leave feedback and complain about how I'm not allowed to watch content that is freely available to other people.

1) A button that delivers a 10.000 volt shock to the nutsack of the persons responsible for that blocking.

Seriously - it takes literally no skill at all to circumvent those IP-based blocks, all it does is inconvenience users and make you look like an a-hole for excluding the rest of the world.

I mean, I can think of reasons why people shouldn't pirate intellectual property (I think the punishments currently meted out are extremely unfair, but that's beside the point). But I can't for the life of me come up with a justification for doing something like disallowing embedding or blocking certain countries from watching a video. Feel free to enlighten me, but what would the consequences be if I were able to watch the video on YouTube directly instead of going through a proxy?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 6:20 AM on January 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


For most of history, musicians have not been rich and famous. They have eked out a living by playing live, often for food, and gaining wealthy patrons or sometimes being aided by a public subscription.

The latter C20th was a bubble of music, where big record companies temporarily had a stranglehold over the global distribution of music. This allowed them, and a small number of bands (compared to the total number of musicians) to become extremely rich.

This bubble has now burst. The big record companies are increasingly irrelevant. Music is going back to how it has always operated, except that now the audience is global and the competition is global.

Musicians who expect to become rich and famous will, by and large, be extremely disappointed. 'Twas ever thus. Musicians who are willing to put as much effort into their craft as, say, a carpenter does into framing houses, keep their overheads low, and manage to stay off drugs, will probably pay the rent, as long as they have another skill or two to fall back on.

I wish the movie studios were watching this and understanding what it means (you'd think they would be, since they are the same people -- Warner, Sony etc) but I'm afraid they are taking all the wrong lessons away.

Disintermediation, baby.
posted by unSane at 6:20 AM on January 19, 2010 [50 favorites]


You can't blame them; they need new shoes, just like everybody else.

Has nobody told these people that shoes are free now?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:21 AM on January 19, 2010 [15 favorites]


Seriously - it takes literally no skill at all to circumvent those IP-based blocks...

Let's assume for a moment that I am someone with no skill at all. How actually do I circumvent these IP based blocks?
posted by Jofus at 6:22 AM on January 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


Band: "Hey - We're listening to you, and this is what we think about the whole copyright thing. Plus - here's some details about why we've done certain things. It's not ideal, and we know that. Anyway, we're not threatening to sue or anything. This is just opinion, and we'd like to constructively take part in this conversation. Plus, at the end, we'll give you a way round doing the thing you want to do."

Metafilter: FUCK OFF BAND. YOU MONEYPIGGING SHILLS. P.S. YOUR MUSIC IS SHIT.
posted by seanyboy at 6:24 AM on January 19, 2010 [48 favorites]


I also would like to circumvent those IP Based blocks.

Bonus: Can I do this also without spending $30+ a month and/or showing all my non-encrypted http traffic to dubious people?
posted by seanyboy at 6:26 AM on January 19, 2010


It's interesting that they defend the record company. AFAICT, they completely bought EMI's argument that making a pittance off of Youtube videos is worth more than the benefits of going viral.

This is what I mean by calling it a press release. I guess maybe it is interesting that they're parroting their label, but it seems more predictable to me.
posted by OmieWise at 6:27 AM on January 19, 2010


It's a shame that their new video can't be embedded. Seems to me that they owe most of their notoriety to the fact that their "Here it Goes Again" video was something of an internet phenomenon. (I couldn't even remember the name of the song and had to google "OKGO Treadmill Video")
posted by banwa at 6:27 AM on January 19, 2010


Feel free to enlighten me, but what would the consequences be if I were able to watch the video on YouTube directly instead of going through a proxy?

They wouldn't be able to sell the rights to the content to your particular territory.

For example, Comedy Central licenses THE DAILY SHOW to The Comedy Network in Canada. Their deal presumably gives TCN exclusive rights to exploit TDS on the internet in Canada.

If Comedy Central makes TDS available to Canadian IP addresses, it can no longer offer TCN exclusive rights. Since TCN hopes to exploit the synergy between the cable channel and its web operations, this makes TDS much less attractive, and increasingly so as viewers migrate to watching stuff over the internet.

I agree that the user experience SUCKS, but it is a very difficult problem to solve since territorial licensing is the backbone of how TV shows and movies are monetized.
posted by unSane at 6:27 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


they completely bought EMI's argument that making a pittance off of Youtube videos is worth more than the benefits of going viral.

This is nothing but viral and a brilliant way to get free marketing for their video. Thanks for playing.
posted by o0o0o at 6:30 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


PS Comedy Central would be quite happy for you to quietly circumvent their controls. Comedy Network Canada, not so much.
posted by unSane at 6:32 AM on January 19, 2010


Let's assume for a moment that I am someone with no skill at all. How actually do I circumvent these IP based blocks?
  1. go to a public proxy located in a country where your desired video is available (the USA)
  2. navigate to your desired video

posted by LogicalDash at 6:35 AM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


our label doesn’t get their hard-won share of the pie

*laughs*

Wow, they've really drunk the koolaid.

It’s like the world has gone backwards.

It kinda did. You stopped making music and videos by yourselves and convinced yourselves you needed to go deeply into debt to a major corporation to achieve "success."
posted by mediareport at 6:37 AM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


I read this earlier, and know reading these comments, I'm basically in the same boat as seanyboy.

I mean seriously, someone in here is suggesting a BAND go to a BANK for a loan. Even at the peak of the bubble, when banks were loaning to dogs that had previously defaulted, they wouldn't loan the $10,000 dollars a band needs to do a a semi-serious run.

I'm betting with the way OK Go videos have done on youtube in the past, the money being gained by these views is not a small amount, as in, probably pays for the video multiple times over amount. And the way the indie online music scene, or any online music scene that i have experience with, the blogs will either embed, or simply link to it. It's not the hugest deal.

I think it's mostly unfair to blame the band for going after money here. They owe their label money. Probably a lot of money. They also tour (which the label helps pays for) constantly, and don't have second jobs. I mean, how can you blame the band here for anything other then signing with a label at the wrong time in music history?
posted by cyphill at 6:37 AM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


[comment not available in your region]
posted by fuq at 6:43 AM on January 19, 2010 [30 favorites]



I thought the whole point of capitalism was that if you wanted money you had to actually create something. Or somehow add value to the world.

Capitalism is more like adding perceived value to the world and extracting as much profit as possible before anyone realizes that what they bought was worthless.
posted by any major dude at 6:48 AM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


These guys (have a listen – the majority of you will likee [Spotify links {1}{2} for those who can]) do a pretty decent job of making a living and releasing/distributing on a single album basis. (I've had long and interesting conversations with the bassist on the whole industry situation / change / download subjects and may yet be able to bring these to the wider world.)

Metafilter: FUCK OFF BAND. YOU MONEYPIGGING SHILLS. P.S. YOUR MUSIC IS SHIT.

The posted opinions of a relative few ≠ the single opinion of the entire whole.

But you knew that really dintcha?
posted by i_cola at 6:51 AM on January 19, 2010


LogicalDash: "Let's assume for a moment that I am someone with no skill at all. How actually do I circumvent these IP based blocks?
  1. go to a public proxy located in a country where your desired video is available (the USA)
  2. navigate to your desired video
"


Yep, or use a package like Hotspot Shield which makes the process even more point-and-click.

seanyboy: Metafilter: FUCK OFF BAND. YOU MONEYPIGGING SHILLS. P.S. YOUR MUSIC IS SHIT."

I'm sorry, but I thought the point of a discussion was to hear both sides of a story. If the band tries to apologize for something the label makes them do we should be able to point out the flaws in their reasoning and the fact that tactics like that lose them fans, not win new listeners.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 6:58 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


"There's a Fire" off their self-titled album is an awesome, awesome song. So not with the talentless.
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:04 AM on January 19, 2010


That's how capitalism likes to present itself, but that's not actually the point. The point is to use capital (see!) to make money with as little cost as possible. Making stuff and paying people costs a lot of money. Investing in the stock market though...
...
Capitalism is more like adding perceived value to the world and extracting as much profit as possible before anyone realizes that what they bought was worthless.
According to George Orwell, Facism is anything you don't like.

Capitalism is kind of the same way. America is a capitalist society, and I'm an American. That means ipso facto any policy I support is capitalist. Plus mandated by the constitution.

(Anyway I was talking about how capitalism is sold not necessarily how it's practiced)
posted by delmoi at 7:09 AM on January 19, 2010


We're a rock band, and it’s a great gig.  Not just because we get to snort drugs off the Queen of England (we do),

Fine. Make me feel bad for quitting music lessons, why don't you?
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:11 AM on January 19, 2010


I saw 'em live with TMBG a few years back and they played the best version of Jesse's girl I've ever heard. Apart from that one brilliant moment, I've always been a little underwhelmed by their original music output. Still, in person, the band had a great, positive energy, and really knew how to work a crowd. They were nice, and from a technical perspective, really solid musicians.

But how absurd it would be if we reserved as much moral scorn for other highly-specialized skills. Think I'm gonna get a t-shirt says: "Your favorite mathematician is too derivative."
posted by saulgoodman at 7:12 AM on January 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


Damian from Ok Go sounds a little douchey.
posted by spilon at 7:13 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what? I download music that I don't own.

....and if I like it I buy the album


...but not when the album is priced at 18 dollars. If it costs 10 or 10.99 I'll buy it. If I really really really like it I'll pay 15. But I'm not going to pay 20 bucks for an album with only 6 songs on it.

What's killing the music industry is the greed and lack of foresight of the record companies. They price their cds to the point where people don't buy them. They prevent their artists from becoming known by going after radio stations and bars and clubs for playing their music. Then they blame music downloaders.

People download music because they can't afford to buy it due to it being overpriced.
posted by I-baLL at 7:14 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


But how absurd it would be if we reserved as much moral scorn for other highly-specialized skills. Think I'm gonna get a t-shirt says: "Your favorite mathematician is too derivative."

Only if it's got a picture of Leibniz

posted by delmoi at 7:15 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Really, it would be worse if the band were trying to blame the label they've signed with. At least they're being consistent.

But yeah, what clvrmnky said. I'm unconvinced the complete revolution that is digital distribution has really changed anything from what Albini said 20 years ago.

I buy a lot less music than I did pre-napster, but that's because I'm no longer 20 with a wad of disposable income and a record store around the corner.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:19 AM on January 19, 2010


YouTube and EMI need to negotiate. YouTube doesn't want to pay the money when someone does not go to their site, see more links, ads, etc. EMI does not want the video shown without the money. Find a way to let this be embedded with a strong encouragement to go to YouTube. Perhaps just let sites embed the audio with a link to YouTube to see the video? Perhaps allow only a small version of the video to be embedded, with no HQ option etc.? There are ways for these behemoths to find compromise. That, and OK Go needs to lay off the Kool-Ade.
posted by caddis at 7:20 AM on January 19, 2010


Ah, here we go, here we go, here we go, again.
posted by cavalier at 7:21 AM on January 19, 2010


This is what Vampire Weekend is what Vampire Weekend would sounds like without the talent.
FYFY delmoi.

Sort of.

Everyone's favorite band sucks anyway.
posted by SPUTNIK at 7:43 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eh, change happens. People who benefit from a change embrace it, people who are harmed by a change fight it, and people who are neither harmed nor benefited by a change don't understand what the hell everybody's on about.

Still, change happens. The music industry model that developed over the last sixty or so years was dead (but not quite gone) the moment instantaneous, near-effortless duplication of music (and music videos) became commercially available. What has happened since is largely people (legal teams, marketing reps) making money off the death process, not slowing it down or speeding it up.
posted by Pragmatica at 7:45 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the band tries to apologize for something the label makes them do we should be able to point out the flaws in their reasoning and the fact that tactics like that lose them fans, not win new listeners.

Are people really going to stop being fans of OK Go because they had to go to Youtube to watch the video? Obviously, from a marketing perspective, embedding is the way to go, but is non-embedding SO offensive that someone would stop being a fan over it?
posted by 23skidoo at 7:53 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


For most of history, musicians have not been rich and famous. They have eked out a living by playing live, often for food, and gaining wealthy patrons or sometimes being aided by a public subscription.

For most of history, the vast majority of laborers of any kind operated under exploitative arrangements with wealthy capital hording landlords and monarchs.

We need to get back to those good old, simpler times, when music was kept in its proper place and employed primarily as a desperate, impotent plea for social justice and a decent standard of living during those late evenings around the fire when all the boys get together for a pint after a hard day spent toiling for the benefit of their feudal master, and musicians (like crop pickers or any other servant class laborer), understood their place and were satisfied with stale bread crusts, a token wage, free ale, and the favorable judgments of their noble protectors.

I propose we start down this noble path by appointing me king. And trust me when I tell you, you won't be first against the wall. Honest. I'll save that honor for people who shoplift from independent retailers.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:57 AM on January 19, 2010 [16 favorites]


Damian of OK Go makes a reasonable argument in favor of the relationship his band has entered into with EMI. I understand why they've chosen to limit the reach of their new video and agree that it's ironic, given the way the band got its original exposure.

If I really liked OK Go, this would irritate me mildly. As it is, though, I don't know much more about the band beyond the treadmill video. So, I'm not inclined to go to extreme measures to track down their new work behind the firewall and the band itself loses a potential fan.

Multiply me by several million and it adds up to Damian not seeing the forest of new listeners for EMI's wretched little trees of money.
posted by felix betachat at 8:08 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


"You know what? I download music that I don't own.....and if I like it I buy the album ...but not when the album is priced at 18 dollars. If it costs 10 or 10.99 I'll buy it. If I really really really like it I'll pay 15. But I'm not going to pay 20 bucks for an album with only 6 songs on it.

This sort of justification really annoys me. If you don't think that an album is worth 20 bucks then don't buy it. If you really want to listen to it without paying then in most cases there are legal ways of doing so (e.g. Spotify, YouTube) of doing that without paying.

You're taking the benefit of the band's work and paying them only what you think it's worth (if you pay them at all - if you don't like it or it's too expensive you don't bother to pay them anything). If the employment sector worked that way, people would be screaming a lot more about it when an employer decided that he was only going to pay an employee half or a quarter of his or her salary after the employee had done the work.
posted by Mattat at 8:10 AM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


So if I watch their video on YouTube, the record label gets some cash, but if I watch the embedded video, the record company gets nothing. That explains the non-embeddedness policy nicely. But note that the band gets nothing either way...this is purely a question of what's in it for EMI.
But if you look beyond the immediate to the second-order effects, the video is a marketing tool to promote the album and the band's live shows - both of which earn the band some money (moreso the latter). So the decision not to allow embedding may net EMI a couple of more bucks, but it's more than likely costing the band significant potential revenue down the road...and the band appears to be defending this idea.
posted by rocket88 at 8:11 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


People are seriously this up in arms about not being to post a video to their blog? What a bunch of whiny, douchey, entitled little crybabies.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:11 AM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


For most of history, musicians have not been rich and famous. They have eked out a living by playing live, often for food, and gaining wealthy patrons or sometimes being aided by a public subscription.

For most of history, the vast majority of laborers of any kind operated under exploitative arrangements with wealthy capital hording landlords and monarchs.


I don't think the point is that feudalism is so great.

The point is this: For a while there in the mid-to-late 20th, most consumers listened to a very small number of producers. That small number of producers therefore made a lot of money.

Now, in this sphere as in so many others, we have more and more producers. Since the total time spent listening to music is NOT exploding exponentially, any given producer is going to make less money.

Laboring under old assumptions about what your listeners are willing to put up with is death.
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


So if I watch their video on YouTube, the record label gets some cash, but if I watch the embedded video, the record company gets nothing. That explains the non-embeddedness policy nicely. But note that the band gets nothing either way...this is purely a question of what's in it for EMI.

No, that's not correct. They are in debt up to their eyeballs to EMI, so every time EMI gets paid, some of it is theoretically credited to them until the vanishingly unlikely time that they become a recouped band and start actually seeing some royalties themselves.

I say theoretically because the record companies have been staggeringly bad at accounting for internet payment, and half the time don't even seem to bother.
posted by unSane at 8:19 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I-baLL, OK GO's new album is available on iTunes for 9.99. An old album of theirs goes for 6.99. Make of that what you will.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:19 AM on January 19, 2010


Good on them for trying, but I can't imagine any circumstances in which trying to engage with people on this won't just produce the standard anti-artist hatefest.
posted by Artw at 8:20 AM on January 19, 2010


I envision a world in which IT professionals are expected to tour and sell t-shirts while doing roofing on the side; let's see how much traction that idea gets around here.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:23 AM on January 19, 2010 [35 favorites]


My point is that there is no bigger oversupply of anything on earth than musicians, since it is something that people do for pleasure even when they aren't paid. It's pure supply and demand. Only a very small proportion should expect to be good enough to become rich at doing it. Athletes are in a similar situation. There are the major leagues, there are the minor leagues, and everyone else has a day job.

The reason that there was a blip mid-century was that record companies were able to restrict (by their ownership of the distribution system) the number of artists whose work could be purchased as a recording, while exploiting a global audience. The supply was small and the demand was high, so prices were high, and a few people made a lot of money.

In essence, the big labels commidified music and are now reaping the whirlwind.

I'm not arguing for feudalism. I'm arguing that musicians are not a special case. They're skilled workers, just as writers like me are skilled workers. We make things, like carpenters build houses. If we can't get people to pay for them to our satisfaction, we should look for other careers.
posted by unSane at 8:27 AM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


We need to get back to those good old, simpler times, when music was kept in its proper place and employed primarily as a desperate, impotent plea for social justice and a decent standard of living during those late evenings around the fire when all the boys get together for a pint after a hard day spent toiling for the benefit of their feudal master, and musicians (like crop pickers or any other servant class laborer), understood their place and were satisfied with stale bread crusts, a token wage, free ale, and the favorable judgments of their noble protectors.

I propose we start down this noble path by appointing me king. And trust me when I tell you, you won't be first against the wall. Honest. I'll save that honor for people who shoplift from independent retailers.


FINALLY, someone who gets it!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:28 AM on January 19, 2010


An IT professional who was surrounded by people who did his job for free because they enjoyed it, and had a skill set and work ethic equivalent to that of the typical rock musician, should certainly make sure their roofing skills were up to par, yes.
posted by unSane at 8:31 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the band tries to apologize for something the label makes them do we should be able to point out the flaws in their reasoning and the fact that tactics like that lose them fans, not win new listeners.

Taking a cue from the New York Times paywall thread, I think it's important to recognize that, in this brave new digital world, popularity ≠ $$$. What good are 50 million views on your video if you're not making enough money to cover the production of that video? Losing some fans in exchange for a steady income is a no-brainer for some.

And, sure, plenty of bands don't care; plenty would be happy with just the views. After all, it makes you real popular around the watercooler at work.

Wait, what's that, no watercooler? Oh, I forgot. You waitress because you need to be able to take time off to tour. Too bad you can't pick up any shifts now that you're back ...
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:32 AM on January 19, 2010


I used to buy a lot of music. Well, for me it was a lot. I consistently spent $20 a week on music right our of high school. I kept this up through college. Then Napster came along and I had a hard time not buying even more music than before. I'd listen to Nick Cavev and hear some Shane Macgowan guy and needed more of his music. Nick played with The Walkabouts and I had to have all their music. Played with Kylie Minogue and...ok, not so much here, but I didn't feel cheated, since I didn't buy her stuff. My music spending dollars actually stayed the same, but the artists I bought had a much greater variety, and some artists like the Tindersticks I had everything they produced, but used Napster to get some cool live shows.

Then the record labels started doing shit I hated, like trying to sell me my music over and over again. This David Bowie disc is remastered and sounds way better than the piece of shit we sold you before, oh and now it's five years later, so here's an anniversary edition with a second disc of unavailable stuff (that you can't buy by itself). Or, Hey, a "best of" with an exclusive song. Want that Nirvana song? It's only $15 for you because we want to thank you for being a fan.

I'm not buying the Echo & The Bunnymen reissues, or the Joy Division reissues, or the Tinderstick reissues, or the....

They stopped taking returns from record stores, so record stores quit taking risks, so I couldn't find anything new. Then they created their own police force and started knocking down walls and persecuting old ladies and children. Then they shut down the college kids with the internet radio stations (streaming radio really really sucks these days).

I could go on.

So I put my money where my mouth is. I use services like RIAA Radar to make sure I don't support these artists. I wrote a letter to Amazon asking them to indicate which artists are members of this to insure I don't accidently buy something from one of them.

I don't illegally download music, but I've pretty much stopped buying it as well. I had no idea who OK Go was until I heard them on NPR.

I'm not going to defend downloading music illegally, and I can only say personally I've slowed my buying down, but I can't feel for any major label artist.

This said, I'm with the record labels on this one, but the solution is stupidly easy. Charge the people that want to embed the videos (if the content owner wants to charge). If I was an Ok Go fan and I could put up one of their videos on my site and pay a reasonable fee every time it was played I might. Just open this model up to anyone, so if I make a video you want on your site and I want to charge for it, great. This is pretty much how google adwords work.

I hate the music industry with a passion. I used to do three college radio shows, two of my best friends managed music stores (that I spent 10+ hours a week in), I had 1500+ plus discs, and I saw at least two concerts a month. Now I could care less.

The more music you have the less each additional song is of value to you. There is only a finite amount of time. Music is now disposable.

If I had my way I would love to go back to the patronage system. I'd have thrown $100 in a pot a couple years ago to get digital copies of everything Pieta Brown does for the rest of her life (consider it an investment). I'd pay $100 for a complete Michael Gira collection. I'd love to support artists I believe in. I'd love access to music I can't get a hold of. But it's hard, frustrating, and too often I feel like I am being taken advantage of. Give me a way to feel vested in an artist again.

Pretty much if an artist is so big that I can't hang around after the show to meet him/her I'm getting less and less interested.

Sorry this gets ramblely, but I get bent out of shape on this one. I'm also sure some of my arguments don't hold water, which is fine by me. Music is like religion to me. I don't think it needs to be rational.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:33 AM on January 19, 2010 [15 favorites]


kitttens for breakfast: "I envision a world in which IT professionals are expected to tour and sell t-shirts while doing roofing on the side; let's see how much traction that idea gets around here."

In a world where women are attracted to you because you're an IT professional, I'll take that deal.
posted by mullingitover at 8:34 AM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


An IT professional who was surrounded by people who did his job for free because they enjoyed it, and had a skill set and work ethic equivalent to that of the typical rock musician, should certainly make sure their roofing skills were up to par, yes.

I.e. Microsoft programmers.

Also, if all these headaches flow from "that's how capitalism works" I'd like to put in a little plug for socialism.
posted by DU at 8:35 AM on January 19, 2010


Hey look a plate of beans on a treadmill.
posted by fire&wings at 8:37 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I.e. Microsoft programmers.

The programmers are not the problem at MS.

I look forward to your socialized music. I bet its about as much fun as it sounds.
posted by unSane at 8:41 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


What cjorgenson said above. Music has become a commodity, like corn or wheat, but the pricing is non-reflective of that fact. A song might be worth $3 at some point and .25 at another point. Is there scarcity of products? Not really, but sometimes for particular songs. There appears to be lots of music everywhere.

Is there anything logic behind the pricing of a single at .99? If anyone can point me to a cost model for a .99 song, I would love to see it.

The music industry, I believe, fully understands this and yet it continues to look backward (at pricing models) rather than forward. R&D costs money and the record companies should be shelling it out and figuring out the way forward rather than hiring lawyers and trying to hold the status quo. I am not saying that it would be easy for them to do, but it appears to me that they don't have the stomach for it and would rather perish than change.
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:54 AM on January 19, 2010


You're taking the benefit of the band's work and paying them only what you think it's worth (if you pay them at all - if you don't like it or it's too expensive you don't bother to pay them anything). If the employment sector worked that way, people would be screaming a lot more about it when an employer decided that he was only going to pay an employee half or a quarter of his or her salary after the employee had done the work.

This is exactly how much of the world works. Yeah, if you work at McDonalds, you get paid the same amount per hour whether you do shitty work or good work. In real life it doesn't always work that way.

Yesterday I went out for breakfast and the waiter was excellent, so he got a big tip. Similarly, I really liked the last NIN album, so I bought it online (after I'd already downloaded it for free and checked it out).

On the other hand, the guy who did the stucco on part of my house did a shit job, so he didn't get paid. Similarly, I downloaded the Niggy Tardust album and it sucked, so that guy didn't get any money from me.

See the pattern? If I find value in something, I pay for it. If not, I don't. Art imitates life.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:00 AM on January 19, 2010


Laboring under old assumptions about what your listeners are willing to put up with is death.

No, no, no. Laboring (whether it's under the old assumptions or under a bunch of brand new hand-wavy ones we just pulled out of our asses to justify our molly-coddled, middle-brow, consumerist mindset) will set you free!

All I know is, I've been an IT professional for close to ten years and a performing musician for more than 20, and honestly, it took me over a decade to become proficient enough on guitar to make the switch from drums (never mind how many years it took to learn to play drums), while it took me less than a year to make the transition from Business Process Analyst (a non-technical role) to the role of Programmer Analyst. Granted, I'm still refining my skills as a programmer half a decade later (this goes for my skills as a guitarist, too), but there's no comparison. Music is much more technically demanding than a lot of other skills. I agree, in general, with the idea that musicians should be viewed as skilled laborers, but suppose you're a writer and just as you wrapped up three years of work on your new novel, before you even had a chance to pursue publication or any other potential sources of income for your work, someone leaks a copy online, it gets a few thousands reads and even enjoys some degree of minor popular success, but when you go to shop the thing around, there aren't any potential investors willing to help you raise the capital to put the damn thing out and really promote it because it's already been released for free.

And yeah, sure, lots of people make music as a hobby (especially now that it's so easy to compose loop-based pastiches of other people's musical performances), but the fact that lots of people enjoy star gazing for pleasure doesn't qualify them even remotely for the post of Royal Astronomer. Just strumming your guitar in your living room every now and then to entertain your family/friends doesn't make you a musician.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:05 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do believe the solution here is some kind of microcharging.

It is really insane that we pay for internet access but not internet content. We are paying the wrong people, and (in North America at least) massively overpaying them for the bandwidth we receive. If I download an MP3, it isn't free... I pay my ISP for the bandwidth.

There is no simple model for how this should work, but just speaking for myself, it's not content per se that I would be willing to pay for, but the aggregation of it. So for example, an absolutely kick-ass radio station that played me fantastic new music would get a subscription. The same is true of my favorite blogs and commentators.

The reason why the NYT paywall doesn't work is because these days we graze promiscuously for our news. There's no way I'm going to subscribe the NYT, WaPo, TorStar, Salon, and all those other places just in case there's something I want to read there. But if (say) someone on Metafilter links to it, and I want to read it, I have no objection whatsoever to paying a few cents for the privilege.

Sure, I can torrent a bunch of music. But that doesn't help me discover new music, which is what's exciting and how most of us experienced music when we began.

I also think cjorgensen is right that some form of patronage is likely to return.
posted by unSane at 9:09 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The point is that people need IT programmers.

People don't need OK GO.
posted by unSane at 9:10 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I envision a world in which IT professionals are expected to tour and sell t-shirts while doing roofing on the side; let's see how much traction that idea gets around here.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:23 AM on January 19 [7 favorites +] [!]


Hey now, it just so happens I AM an IT professional and I DO sell t-shirts, so there!

link's in the profile if you're interested...
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:14 AM on January 19, 2010


I wonder if a new industry will appear to fill need of modern musicians; something similar to a label in that they can provide money and access to producers and tour coordinators but does nothing with distribution and doesn't own any of the actual music.

I bet there's a lot of money in something like that for someone who could make it work.
posted by quin at 9:16 AM on January 19, 2010


and had a skill set and work ethic equivalent to that of the typical rock musician

Cool, let's continue to base our assumptions on the rampant cultural stereotype of the rockstar who sleeps in until 3PM. I've met a lot of very hard-working people in rock bands. Much more hard-working than my 9-5 software ass.

So, yes, I'm calling bullshit on the 'work ethic equivalent of the typical rock musician'.
posted by kingbenny at 9:17 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


saulgoodman: "suppose you're a writer and just as you wrapped up three years of work on your new novel, before you even had a chance to pursue publication or any other potential sources of income for your work, someone leaks a copy online, it gets a few thousands reads and even enjoys some degree of minor popular success, but when you go to shop the thing around, there aren't any potential investors willing to help you raise the capital to put the damn thing out and really promote it because it's already been released for free."

Is this even a realistic scenario? How often do artists of any stripe get denied distribution deals because they are popular?

You're right about music being a skilled trade. Up until the invention of recording media, music was a service, not a product. You could not stockpile music. Now that you can, most musicians still aren't making any more than they would've made back in the music-as-service age. This has nothing to do with infringement, but rather the upper hand that the labels hold with their control of the studios and the distribution system. Interesting how I've never met a blue-collar musician complain about infringement (perhaps because they've all been huge downloaders themselves), it's only the rich ones and the suits at the record company. For the nine out of ten bands that never succeed at their record contract and end up in debt to the label, the emerging music distribution paradigm is at least an improvement over the status quo.
posted by mullingitover at 9:17 AM on January 19, 2010


No, people don't need programmers. They want them for now, that's all. In fact, in a lot of markets, people are deciding they don't really even want them all that much anymore.

For example, every state government shop I've ever seen that now uses computer systems for mission-critical functions managed to make do without them for decades--and that was back when something like 80 percent of people polled reported being satisfied with the way government functions were carried out (as opposed to now, when the numbers are consistently in the low 30s on a good day).

There's thousands of years of human history that give lie to this claim.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:18 AM on January 19, 2010


MeTa
posted by jason's_planet at 9:18 AM on January 19, 2010


The point is that people need IT programmers.

People don't need OK GO.


BS again. No, people don't NEED any one particular band or artist. But I'd argue that they do need music as much as or more than they need IT programmers.
posted by kingbenny at 9:20 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


"If I find value in something, I pay for it. If not, I don't. Art imitates life."

But that's not how the world works. Take your breakfast example: when you ate at the restaurant you still had to pay for the food. You didn't get to eat it first and then decide whether you would pay for it depending on whether you liked it or not. You didn't get to eat it and then only pay half of the asking price because it was "like 20 bucks for only 1 course". Sure there's an element of performance rated pay but that payment structure is part of the agreement up front between you and the restaurant, not something that you decided on your own.

Taking your other example, the guy who did the stucco on your house presumably didn't do what he promised to, otherwise he's going to sue you. If you go to buy an album and it doesn't play, doesn't have any music on it or only has half the music that it promises on the cover then you can take it back and get your money back.

What you don't get to do is unilaterally decide that someone's work isn't worth what they are asking for it and only pay them what you think is fair and act as if it is morally justified. Similarly you can't just justify illegally downloading music "to see if it is any good" - there are generally legal ways of listening to stuff without paying for it, and if there isn't then you have to decide whether you think the music is worth paying the price for.

This isn't an attack against you coolguymichael as you clearly state that you've made the decision to stop buying music that you do not think is worth it, it's an attack on the self-entitled point of view that music is some form of basic human right and therefore charging for it is morally wrong.
posted by Mattat at 9:20 AM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


someone leaks a copy online, it gets a few thousands reads and even enjoys some degree of minor popular success, but when you go to shop the thing around, there aren't any potential investors willing to help you raise the capital to put the damn thing out and really promote it because it's already been released for free.

But hasn't the idea that exposure lowers sales pretty much been proven false, at least in many cases, and hasn't it kind of been proven false with the very band under discussion? I'm not interested in writing an apologia for music downloading--no band owes me cheap music--but it strikes me that part of the issue is that people can now 1) be more informed about where they spend their money, and, 2) make a certain demand for their work in marketing the product. Because that's what "viral" sharing is, a form of marketing, from which a heavily monetized industry wants to benefit, but for which they do not want to recompense people. Unfortunately, in order to have it really work, folks have to feel some ownership over what they are sharing, and that usually comes from being able to embed it, or remix it, or something of that sort.
posted by OmieWise at 9:24 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those are sweet ghillie suits. I just wanted to point that out.
posted by rusty at 9:25 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain why "the software that pays out those tiny sums doesn’t pay if a video is embedded" which I think is the real crux of the issue here.

Even if at first they were making all the money off of the visual/banner etc. ads being shown on the website (which would explain a no-embed policy) -- now they've all got all the little in-video overlay ads at the bottom of all the videos themselves.

So what's the roadblock here re: tallying up the tiny little sums on embedded vids, as it were?
posted by bhance at 9:26 AM on January 19, 2010


I'm sorry, but I thought the point of a discussion was to hear both sides of a story.

The point of a discussion (if there is one) is to hear all sides of a discussion. Including any implications made by me that maybe elements of the against side are being overly harsh and personalising something that doesn't need to be personalised.

Of course, I fucked all that up by relying overly on sarcasm and curse words. It's like I've become the thing that I'm criticising. Purely with my words.
As you've messed up your point by saying essentially "You can't voice that opinion, because we need to hear all opinions."

Now - This is all getting a bit tricky, cos the fact that we both did the same thing is either weirdly ironic, or strangely coincidental, or we're both hypocrites.

And that IS overthinking this particular plate of beans.
posted by seanyboy at 9:26 AM on January 19, 2010


I really, really don't like marching bands. There. I said it.
posted by The World Famous at 9:27 AM on January 19, 2010


I really, really don't like marching bands. There. I said it.

Marching band music was once crazy popular -- brass was, for almost a century, the music of America, and a lot of the elements of arrangement developed for brass are still widely used in popular music. But the audience for brass waned, and it's pretty hard to imagine a brass band that isn't specifically connected with an institution being able to make their full-time living at it. The market just doesn't want to pay for it anymore.

Maybe we should pass some sort of law because their business model became outdated to guarantee them the income that I am sure they deserve.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:34 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


BS again. No, people don't NEED any one particular band or artist. But I'd argue that they do need music as much as or more than they need IT programmers.

I will bet any amount of money that my life would be affected far more if there were no more professional IT programmers than if all professional musicians suddenly disappeared.
posted by uri at 9:35 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


denied distribution deals because they are popular?

Distribution is nothing. Anybody can get distribution these days. The coin of the realm in music is promotion and working capital.

And it isn't a matter of being denied because it's popular, but because potential investors don't see it as a money making proposition since there's no method for monetizing the product beyond the honor system.

These days, in my own experience and as I've gleaned from talks with other more successful independent musicians I've known over the years, investors are much more likely to work with a musician who can guarantee some kind of future return on investment--the quality of the work or even popularity doesn't factor as heavily into it as one would hope.

If you're an artist whose got some kind of industry connection that allows you to get your songs placed in a popular television show, then you might get a record deal. If you're already independently rich (like an astonishing proportion of popular indie artists) you can get the music press to take you seriously whether you kind of suck or not, and some degree of popularity is almost inevitable.

Believe me, being the most popular band in the world will get you exactly shit in most cases if there isn't a compelling business case for signing or underwriting you (like proven sales potential, licensing, etc.). Well, I take that back somewhat. If your band's really popular, you might get a couple of major labels sniffing around, asking for demo submissions. But there are the obvious drawbacks there, and in most cases, popularity alone will not get you across the finish line there either. We had a major solicit a demo submission from my old band once (according to the label, because their A&R folks reported there was so much "buzz" around our band). We were popular enough to get their attention. But so what? Who cares if you're popular. What's important is that you are lucrative.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:36 AM on January 19, 2010


I really, really don't like marching bands. There. I said it.
posted by The World Famous


Marching band snares sound awesome though. Whenever I hear them in other genres of music I love it. Only can think of a couple examples though (Vitalic and one Destiny's Child song I think).
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:38 AM on January 19, 2010


cjorgenson-
M. Gira is reforming Swans, and to pay for the recording there is a pretty cool cd/dvd package you can get directly from Young God Records. I just ordered it, and I'm pretty excited. The cd has solo demos of the new songs that Swans will record, and the dvd has two solo M. Gira shows.
He put together all the packages by hand, and has a ton of pictures and writing about the process, and the reasoning behind reforming Swans here.

Sorry to derail but I'm really excited about this, and it seems like a good way to fund a recording. I think that Einsturzende Neubaten did the same thing w/ Alles Wieder Offen, posting demos and performances on a website you had to pay for, to fund their recording. That's a good record, too.
posted by kittensofthenight at 9:41 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I envision a world in which IT professionals are expected to tour and sell t-shirts while doing roofing on the side; let's see how much traction that idea gets around here."

You're not too far from this. And as an IT professional, I get a lot of, "Let me ask you something about my personal set up," or, "Can I bring in my home laptop?" or "No way am I paying you $75 for a home visit to hook up a printer!"

I have a skill these people don't. I studied a lot to get it. I also do a lot to keep my knowledge current. For some reason people think IT people should be falling over themselves to share this.

I'm willing to concede this same respect to artists. As a tribe are willing to exempt them from gathering food and water because they amuse us, but groveling at their feet and making sure they live in gold plated mansions...screw that. I work as hard as they do. I still hold a grudge against Metallica. I sold my discs back in the mid 90s and have never bought or supported them since. I don't even know if they are still together, nor do I care.

Also, as an "IT professional" I am probably doing something wrong, since I am often forced to do things on the side just to make ends meet.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:41 AM on January 19, 2010


I will bet any amount of money that my life would be affected far more if there were no more professional IT programmers than if all professional musicians suddenly disappeared.

To play along with this odd theoretic scenario, I agree in that the effect would be felt more immediately. I wouldn't be so quick to say that means you NEED one of them more than the other. Life affected by does not equal need, in my mind.
posted by kingbenny at 9:41 AM on January 19, 2010


What's important is that you are lucrative.

Well, that, and as in our case, that you don't self-destruct spectacularly before your first album's even finished. But still.

posted by saulgoodman at 9:41 AM on January 19, 2010


As a tribe are willing to exempt them from gathering food and water because they amuse us, but groveling at their feet and making sure they live in gold plated mansions...screw that.

Here, here! I'm with you on that. Musicians don't need to be elevated to the level of feudal lord either. I'd never argue that.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:44 AM on January 19, 2010


For the IT folks out there:

Went to VTunnel to try the site and navigated to washingtonpost.com. The headline? "Massachusetts election shaping up as proxy fight."
posted by el_lupino at 9:45 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]



For most of history, musicianspeople have not been rich and famous. They have eked out a living by playing liveworking in obscurity, often for food, and gaining wealthy patrons or sometimes being aided by a public subscription.


Fixed that for you. What's your point, that practitioners of a trade that became highly valued economically should just shrug their shoulders and go back to being happy that someone is might toss them a bone for their hobby?
posted by spicynuts at 9:47 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


It kinda did. You stopped making music and videos by yourselves and convinced yourselves you needed to go deeply into debt to a major corporation to achieve "success."

Kinda like every other entreprenuer in the world. So Google should shoulda just stayed working in a garage instead of going deeply into debt by borrowing money from a VC and then borrowing money from shareholders? The fact that most bands don't make it is exactly the same as the fact that most start ups, small businesses, etc don't make it. There are VCs, banks, private investors willing to take risks on a lot of them for the pay off that comes with one big success (Google, etc). Why is this any different from how a band operates?
posted by spicynuts at 9:53 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I get that there are a lot of musicians who would make music without getting paid, but that doesn't mean they can all go be roofers and we'll still get the same amount of good music.

The band you kind of sort of like -- not enough to buy an album from them --, whose members all have day jobs out of financial necessity, might take twice as long to record an album. Or they might never be able to put in the time necessary to develop into that band you really like. Or they might put out half-assed work because they're on a deadline and they just don't have the time.

Or (speaking of Vampire Weekend) we'll see a lot more music from people who don't have to worry about money.

Obviously the recording industry business model is going down in flames and that model is not going to exist in the future. But it didn't only have downsides.
posted by Jeanne at 9:55 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


our label doesn’t get their hard-won share of the pie
*laughs*
Wow, they've really drunk the koolaid.


Never mind a proxy server, we need instructions for a sarcasm detector around here.
posted by yerfatma at 9:57 AM on January 19, 2010


Just strumming your guitar in your living room every now and then to entertain your family/friends doesn't make you a musician.

Sure it does. It doesn't make you a professional musician (or possibly) a good musician, but if you are able to entertain a few people with your music, you too can be a musician! Even if you make music that is unlistenable to anyone but you, you are also a musician. Just one that no one else enjoys. But that also describes any number of writers, visual artists, etc. etc.

In other words, it's a meaningless label. Musician=one who makes music. No other requirements, really.

From an artistic standpoint, there's something to be said for easy recording and distribution of music becoming so accessible to anyone. Makes the overall cultural life richer. From an economic standpoint for musicians trying to sell music/performance, it's a blow, but I'm not sure that in the final shakeout we'll end up with Less Good Music. Musicians who might have been Big may no longer be able to do so; but then, musicians who were equally talented but would never have been Big, can, at least, record music and distribute it now, which they couldn't before. Net gain or net loss for our culture? Depends on who you ask. Will all of that music find a listener...are there as many listeners as there are musicians? Seems unlikely, but then you don't know what will catch on in 100 years. Or 10.

In the meantime, musicians have to keep their dayjobs, which sucks, but seems to point to wanting a lot of socialist change (20 hour workweeks, universal healthcare, more access to housing and food supported by govt) rather than trying to make Musician once more a job that pays enough to survive in our current economy for any significant number of people.
posted by emjaybee at 10:00 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or (speaking of Vampire Weekend) we'll see a lot more music from people who don't have to worry about money.

Yeah, it must be nice to be on the bleeding edge of the Trust Fund Baby Cultural Revolution that's currently underway, now that we've defrocked all the no-talent hacks from working class backgrounds. Forget the Johnny B. Good mythos of rising from humble beginnings through musical accomplishment. I'd much rather we have more songs concerned with the kinds of themes that really strike a universal chord, like Luis Vuitton hand bags.

Sure it does. It doesn't make you a professional musician (or possibly) a good musician, but if you are able to entertain a few people with your music, you too can be a musician!


I disagree. I think it makes you someone who doodles on the guitar. The title musician refers to a vocation not an avocation (as in, you know, people who belong to musician's unions are musicians). Building and installing cabinets in your house out of personal interest doesn't make you a cabinet maker (and doing some of your own roofing doesn't make you a roofer).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:06 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]



So what's the roadblock here re: tallying up the tiny little sums on embedded vids, as it were?


Probably not a technical issue, but an ad context issue. As explained in TFA:

Advertisers aren’t too keen on paying for ads when they don’t know where the ads will appear (“Dear users of FoxxxyPregnantMILFS.com, try Gerber’s new low-lactose formula!”), so there are a lot of hurdles to get over.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:09 AM on January 19, 2010


I know I'm a little late to the conversation here, but can someone please explain to me (again, after hearing the argument for more than a decade now) where this sense of entitlement originated that we feel we don't have to pay for products or services we enjoy, made by artists we enjoy?

A few things: The pitfalls of signing to a major label have been discussed on this site and others ad nauseam (cue mandatory Albini link). Moreover, the corporate label MOs of the past 20 years had been predicated on a business plan of quick-turn-around, assembly line widget-making of pumping out as many shiny discs as they can and inflating the prices to astounding degree, irrespective of the quality or artist nurturing you would see in the label/band relationships between the 40s and 70s. Third, major labels will always have some shitty artists. So will many indies. Finally, some artists will always do what they do for free. Others not so much. These 4 premises have been established.

That being said, these are decisions made between an artist and the label (or lack thereof), and any economic repercussions or debts accrued will be theirs to sow. The question remains: if an artist you enjoy makes an album you enjoy, - irrespective of whether it is released on a major or a minor - why wouldn't you want to ensure they can keep doing what they're doing so you can continue to enjoy it?

Oh, that's right: you're old, blah blah, luddite, blah blah blah, don't understand new technology, herberderber, etc.

My biggest hope, in this case and in all others, is that labels, artists and file sharing groups can iron out a business plan that becomes successful and profitable for everyone.
posted by tiger yang at 10:10 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, if the arts are all socialized it'll make the quotas everyone is clamoring for easier to impose too.
posted by Artw at 10:12 AM on January 19, 2010


it's pretty hard to imagine a brass band that isn't specifically connected with an institution being able to make their full-time living at it.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
Rebirth Brass Band
Hot 8 Brass Band
Soul Rebels
Dirty Dozen Brass Band

I would guess that most of these folks, the first and last maybe excepted, have day jobs and/or play in other bands, though.
posted by box at 10:18 AM on January 19, 2010


Hey, how can I tell OK go about this (a band i enjoy and have sent money to):

The catch: the software that pays out those tiny sums doesn’t pay if a video is embedded. This means our label doesn’t get their hard-won share of the pie if our video is played on your blog, so (surprise, surprise) they won’t let us be on your blog.


This isn't true. Youtube usage reports, amongst other things, list revenue from Embeds, and revenue from Watches (when you view on their site). Watch views, since they come directly from youtube.com, obviously generate more revenue, but Embed views still generate rev. In fact, whether or not a Label monetizes any of the embeds or views is COMPLETELY THE DECISION OF THE LABEL. So for some reason, 1. EMI is either lying to OK Go and pocketing the embed rev stream, 2. EMI is too dumb to read the reports and monetize embeds, or 3. OK Go has some clause in their contract we couldn't know about that is fucking them out of this money. As smackfu mentioned, "here's the bottom line: EMI won't let us let you embed our YouTube videos."
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 10:21 AM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


It would be everywhere if they'd let them!
posted by leemfrank at 10:24 AM on January 19, 2010


can someone please explain to me [...] this sense of entitlement originated that we feel we don't have to pay for products or services we enjoy, made by artists we enjoy

LIVE.
PERFORMANCES.

Do you need a blink tag?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:25 AM on January 19, 2010


LIVE.
PERFORMANCES.

Do you need a blink tag?


That's right. Any musician who creates a recorded work that cannot be performed live deserves no remuneration for it. The Beatles should not have been paid a dime for anything after Rubber Soul, because they didn't play the songs live.
posted by The World Famous at 10:26 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


The point is that people need IT programmers.

Hahahahahahahahaha. Whoo.

While I like the internets and all, I'm more thankful for the roofer. Don't kid yourself, making sure that all the printers on a network have enough ink to produce this week's TPS report doesn't exactly make the world go 'round.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:28 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I still hold a grudge against Metallica

Ha! that makes me laugh, since at the moment I am writing a book on how to become a professional knitwear designer (another field where there are a lot of people who would like to make that move up from strumming in the living room to playing on the big stage, to use the music example again). In it, I'm discussing social media, and the Peculiar Event Wherein Amanda Palmer Made $19,000 On Twitter. One of my smartassed remarks in the text was that she's used social media wisely to connect to her fans, unlike Metallica, because really, what do those guys do on a Friday night? Sit around and count their money?

(I wonder. Do they?)

There are a lot of professions where the cost of entry is relatively low/you can teach yourself, but it doesn't necessarily mean you're any good or that you're an actual professional.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:28 AM on January 19, 2010


You know, every time I run into such an arbitrary limitation, like if someone links to Hulu or a clip from the Comedy Channel, I really really want (in ascending order of preference):

Clearly you've never worked with companies comprised mainly of lawyers.

You: "There's no way to prevent users from other countries from seeing the video. Any sort of protection scheme will be trivial to get around, at most you're inconveniencing the rest of the world and teaching them that with a few tricks you can circumvent the protections. Now the threshold for copyright infringement has been lowered and users will put up with annoyances to just get the end product."

Lawyer: "But IPs are purchases by ISP and we can filter based on countries?"

You: "Yes but you very easily purchase an IP address from another country and tunnel through that. It is super cheap too, and not illegal. You'll find services coming up that will allow you to tunnel for free or virtually free, people won't even know they're tunneling, they'll just know they have to do this before they can see your videos"

Lawyer: "Oh no one is ever going to do that."

You: ...

Lawyer: "I'm a super busy lawyer, I buy $90 for Monster Cable and pay Geek Squad to setup my television. I can't imagine a world where people weren't super busy and billing what I bill. To have time to do all that? That's nonsense, only hackers like you can do something like that."

You: "Hackers, really?"

Lawyer: "Okay well it's 2PM, if I wanted to stay late at the office I'd be working at a real law firm. Just do what I say."
posted by geoff. at 10:32 AM on January 19, 2010


I'm listening to FM radio right now. I'm not paying anyone to do this. (I'm assuming the banal advertisements foot the bill)

As I understood things back in the day, singles being played on the radio for all to hear freely *was* the advertisement that the record company utilized to promote live shows.

Later, Payola was the big scandal when record companies bribed DJ's for more plays of a given single.

Meanwhile, as opposed to radio, the youtube embedding is some *not* free, viral promotion of a given artist?

(FWIW, if you're an artist on amazon, your music is accessible and good, I buy your song(s) at the asking price.)
posted by uncorq at 10:32 AM on January 19, 2010


I know I'm a little late to the conversation here, but can someone please explain to me (again, after hearing the argument for more than a decade now) where this sense of entitlement originated that we feel we don't have to pay for products or services we enjoy, made by artists we enjoy?

Yeah, you won't see me making that argument. But I can also live without a lot of music so many other people think they have to have (which I don't get at all). There's such a variety of music out there that it's not hard to find things you enjoy while not patronizing artist you think are full of shit. Maybe that's just me.

Maybe it's also because I have enough music (legally acquired) that I couldn't reasonably listen to it all ever again in this lifetime.

Music is like popcorn and pop at a movie theater to me. Fuck them if they think I am paying $10 for a product we all know costs $0.40 to produce. I may smuggle in my own, but most likely I'll just skip the whole experience.

Your best argument that you have laid out so far is age. I'm not 20 anymore. I'm not plugged into what's new. My favorite bands are no longer producing. I'm too attached to the physical product, etc. etc.

The question remains: if an artist you enjoy makes an album you enjoy, - irrespective of whether it is released on a major or a minor - why wouldn't you want to ensure they can keep doing what they're doing so you can continue to enjoy it?

Because I disagree with the artists' choice to put music out on a label I believe uses unethical tactics? Because they are charging more money than is reasonable for their product? Because they opened their mouths and I don't agree with their take on politics or I consider them to be bigoted?

I can keep going. I can think of tons of reasons to stop supporting an artist I enjoy.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:32 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're already independently rich (like an astonishing proportion of popular indie artists) you can get the music press to take you seriously whether you kind of suck or not, and some degree of popularity is almost inevitable.

For sure. People love rich bands. And having money goes a long way towards getting popular -- more than most people realize, I think.

Also, some tangentially-related data: I released some music this month with a pay-what-you-want scheme with no minimum price, as well as a physical purchase option. There isn't much data to draw from yet, but so far 25% of folks have paid for a CD, 2% have paid for a download, and 73% have downloaded it for free. It was also posted on a torrent site a week or two before it was released where it was downloaded a bunch of times. This is a 4-song EP, which all told cost $3500 to produce and make 200 copies of.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:33 AM on January 19, 2010


Also, saulgoodman, I played a show last year with one of the bands on your label. Small world.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:34 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


LIVE.
PERFORMANCES.

Do you need a blink tag?


This has been discussed to death for 5+ years now and it does not adequately solve the problem. Many artists cannot tour all the time. Other artists do not have the resources to sign hefty contracts with Live Nation or other promoters who now insist on taking percentages of artist merchandising profits. Other artists have now found that the live-performance-package-circuit completely bypasses up-and-coming acts in favor of guaranteed money makers in the reunion tour dinosaur market. Other artists have passed away and their co-contributors / co-publishers / families / heirs don’t get a dime of the money that’s owned to them.

Try again.
posted by tiger yang at 10:36 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Music is like popcorn and pop at a movie theater to me. Fuck them if they think I am paying $10 for a product we all know costs $0.40 to produce. I may smuggle in my own, but most likely I'll just skip the whole experience.

You don't need to pay for popcorn to enjoy the movie, but you should understand that if no one paid for popcorn and soda, you wouldn't be watching the movie. The concessions subsidize the tickets, because of the moderately convoluted system of film distribution and showing. If everyone stopped buying concessions, I am sure a new model would pop up, but you have to let go of the idea of the "real" value of anything. It has no bearing on the cost of anything but unsubsisized commodities, and there are almost no products marketed or sold as commodities on the consumer level.
posted by mzurer at 10:37 AM on January 19, 2010


Because I disagree with the artists' choice to put music out on a label I believe uses unethical tactics? Because they are charging more money than is reasonable for their product? Because they opened their mouths and I don't agree with their take on politics or I consider them to be bigoted? I can keep going. I can think of tons of reasons to stop supporting an artist I enjoy.

Understood. So, I’m assuming you fully support and purchase the albums of artists who release albums on minor labels, or artists who release albums on major label with pricing/political/ethics standards you agree with?
posted by tiger yang at 10:44 AM on January 19, 2010


Here they want the best of both worlds, the old school "videos as free promotion (videos as ad)" and the new school "videos as revenue generator (videos as content to place ads on)" Of course it seems reasonable, and youtube probably should put ads on embedded videos if content creators want 'em.

Yeah, because if they embedded pop-up ads within the video-space I'm sure nobody would say "screw that" and watch videos elsewhere (vimeo, veoh, etc...)... [/sarcasm]

Ads in the interests of viewers want to be opaque or even transparent. Ads in the interest of the money-makers want to be in-your-face. This is a tension. This is why most people don't put up with TV because as a captive-audience you feel you are being abused and wasting time, as compared to the plethora of alternatives: torrents, PVR where your time and your eyes are under your control.

More on-topic, how much does YT pay out for ads anyway? Maybe I'm underestimating how much the value really is, but it looks to me that EMI is collectively shooting itself and its artists in the foot by preventing the innocent and FREE advertising of embeds. If it were me, and I were with OK Go I would systematically "leak" the videos to other video hosts because frak that policy.
posted by tybeet at 10:46 AM on January 19, 2010


You know what? I download music that I don't own.

....and if I like it I buy the album


...but not when the album is priced at 18 dollars. If it costs 10 or 10.99 I'll buy it. If I really really really like it I'll pay 15. But I'm not going to pay 20 bucks for an album with only 6 songs on it.

What's killing the music industry is the greed and lack of foresight of the record companies. They price their cds to the point where people don't buy them. They prevent their artists from becoming known by going after radio stations and bars and clubs for playing their music. Then they blame music downloaders.

People download music because they can't afford to buy it due to it being overpriced.


Ok Go's new album is $8.99 at Amazon. Thirteen songs. Enjoy.

Unless you're buying them at the mall or from an infomercial, CD's haven't cost $18 in years.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:46 AM on January 19, 2010


Wait a sec - Did anyone read the press release? The embeddable link comes from the band.
posted by mzurer at 10:47 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


mzurer: "You don't need to pay for popcorn to enjoy the movie, but you should understand that if no one paid for popcorn and soda, you wouldn't be watching the movie."

This makes sense. I remember the time that nobody bought concessions before the movie, and they cleared out the theatre and sent everyone home. I'll never go without buying concessions again! If only there weren't rigid controls on ticket prices.
posted by mullingitover at 10:50 AM on January 19, 2010


Fuck them if they think I am paying $10 for a product we all know costs $0.40 to produce.

So, what you're advocating is a system where you are willing to pay far more for a small indie release than for a well-established major label band? You'll base your purchase price on the number of units that have already sold at the time that you make your purchase?

Because a good recorded song that would cost somewhere just under a dollar online cost a lot more than a dollar to record. Sure, if lots of people pay for copies of it, the actual cost of production will eventually be recovered by the person who made the song.

But when you pay $4 on iTunes to buy the 6-song EP that I have for sale on iTunes, you're getting a product that cost me way more than $4 to make. And because I'm an independent artist, I (and my collaborator) get a far bigger percentage of that $4 than a major label artist would.

Still, though, even with the fact that we get a bigger percentage of the sale price than a major label artist, we have not come anywhere near making as much money from the EP as it cost to make it. And we have no expectation that we ever will recoup the cost. We knew that from the start.

So, are you going to pay more for music that has not yet sold enough to recoup its production cost? You apparently refuse to pay for wildly successful music, based on the fact that it is profitable. Do you likewise insist on paying even more than the asking price for independent music that represents a financial sacrifice on the part of the artist and that is not profitable? Because if you don't pay at least full price - if not more - for every unprofitable independent release you download or own, your argument is a lie.
posted by The World Famous at 10:51 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The embeddable link comes from the band.

Although it seems pretty clear their publisher could tell OK Go that's not OK either. I really doubt they have a contract that goes to to the detail of "Youtube cannot be embedded" or anything. So it's presumably just a general, "we are the publisher and we decide how the media is available".
posted by smackfu at 10:52 AM on January 19, 2010


I disagree. I think it makes you someone who doodles on the guitar.

And I disagree with your disagreement. The person who acts in community theater is still an actor. The person who writes for their company newsletter is still a writer. The person who completes a marathon is still a runner. The seamstress sews. Etc.

You're trying to make an argument that you have to do "it" for a living to be considered "that thing." Yeah, I'm not going to consider the guy who puts out a fire with a garden hose to be a firefighter, or the guy who uses a first aid kit to put a bandage on my scraped knee a doctor, but as a society we've decided these people need some kind of qualification to do this profession. No such requirements exist for music. If you are able to produce a sound that other people want to listen to you're a musician.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:53 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maybe bands need angel and VC investors with less onerous terms.

Then you're back in the realm of being in debt to someone, because those investors want to get money back. Do you know what would be awesome? More (National) Arts Councils. Government funding for art is fantastic.

Fuck them if they think I am paying $10 for a product we all know costs $0.40 to produce. I may smuggle in my own, but most likely I'll just skip the whole experience.

Is that $10 for a movie or $10 for a CD? Yes, there's the raw duplication of data onto media, but then there's the creation of the content, which could be as simple as field recordings or as complex as a symphony. The former is recording sound being made outside of a studio, by nature or people or a mix of the two, while the latter is the accumulation of lifetimes of education, expensive instruments that have to be maintained, and the location in which to play. It's kind of like Picasso's napkin. It may look easy, but it's taken a lot of work to get there.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:54 AM on January 19, 2010


mullingitover: Are you just trying to demonstrate that you don't have any understanding of the mechanics of movie theater operation? I'm not making it up... Concessions are how movie theaters make money. It's not to say another model might not spring up, but that's the current model. My point is that is that making an argument from "true cost" is meaningless.
posted by mzurer at 10:54 AM on January 19, 2010


Also, saulgoodman, I played a show last year with one of the bands on your label. Small world.

Awesome! Hope it was a good show. Unfortunately, none of our roster of bands is really active anymore. They've all pretty much called it quits, for one reason or another. Soft Targets split up just recently, though Jesse, the front man from that band will (hopefully) continue as a solo act or with a new lineup. The Ums split too, though they briefly reformed without their lead singer before that, too, folded. Ongoing financial stresses (debt, debt, debt) are always big factor, especially for the guys with families.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:59 AM on January 19, 2010


And I disagree with your disagreement. The person who acts in community theater is still an actor.

Well, in that case, guess I'll have to get new business cards that say "actor, musician, poet, novelist, music producer, programmer analyst, hardware tech, roofer, philosopher, dishwasher, mathematician, driver, political analyst, bicycle technician, social critic and media pundit."
posted by saulgoodman at 11:03 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Isn't this a breakthrough, that I'm a sailor? I sail? I sail now?
posted by The World Famous at 11:07 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The World Famous, huh?

I'll pay what I think a song is worth. If the artist is asking for more than I think it's worth I won't. It's that simple. Same thing for a pop in the movie theater.

The fixed pricing of movies and music both good and bad in my opinion. A $200 million dollar movie (to make) shouldn't cost the same as a $13 million dollar movie, but it does. So a "Lord of the Rings" ticket costs me the same as a ticket to "The Blair Witch Project," which I think is crap as well, but since the theaters have a lock on this I don't have a choice.

I'm not sure where you ever read I said I'd pay more for an artist just because they were indie. I also don't have a problem buying wildly successful music or profitable music, as long as I believe in the art and the artist. I may like an Eminem song or two, but I'll never buy him because I think he's a racist, sexist, homophobe.

I don't care if an artist can make their money back. I hope the ones I like and support do, but not artists in general. If not enough people like an artist to keep him fed and clothed, it's probably time to pick a different profession. I don't see how any artist should be guaranteed a living.

You admitted that you have no expectation to recoup the loss of your EP, yet you still decided to put it out. People do that stuff all the time. I spend way more on my creative endeavors than I make back, but I also don't expect to make my money back. I'm not sure what you want here. Just like any investment you have no guarantee of return. If you're saying you;re being cheated out of a return because of a broken model or through fraud, that's one thing, but entitlement to make a profit just because you produced something is something else entirely.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:09 AM on January 19, 2010


it takes literally no skill at all to circumvent

There are a lot of people out there with literally no skill. Most people, in fact, have limited skills. These people, so different from you and me, are the ones who believe advertisements, think our leaders are doing things to benefit us, worry about changes that seem obviously in their best interests, etc.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:17 AM on January 19, 2010


Is that $10 for a movie or $10 for a CD?

It was for the popcorn and the pop. I'll pay the asking price for a movie until they start asking more than I am willing to pay.

Well, in that case, guess I'll have to get new business cards that say "actor, musician, poet, novelist, music producer, programmer analyst, hardware tech, roofer, philosopher, dishwasher, mathematician, driver, political analyst, bicycle technician, social critic and media pundit."

Well, there's a difference between doing something well enough to consider yourself that thing and doing it well enough to make a living at it. I am all kinds of things I'd never put on a business card.

Nearly every poet has a day job. And if you do those other things often enough, and well enough, to have incorporated them into your identity, why not put them on a card if you are trying to sell yourself as such?

I know a lot of people that do pottery. I only know one that makes a living at it. Is she the only artist? The only potter?
posted by cjorgensen at 11:17 AM on January 19, 2010


I'll pay what I think a song is worth. If the artist is asking for more than I think it's worth I won't. It's that simple. Same thing for a pop in the movie theater.

If what you're saying is that you obtain music only by purchasing it for the asking price, and that you only obtain music that you believe is worth the asking price, then fine. But if your point is that people should go ahead and just take music for free that they don't think is worth the asking price, that's where I disagree with you.

I'm not sure where you ever read I said I'd pay more for an artist just because they were indie.

I didn't read that you said that. I read where you said you would not pay asking price if you think the profit margin is too high. Logically, then, you should be willing to pay more for low-profit products.

If not enough people like an artist to keep him fed and clothed, it's probably time to pick a different profession.

Having a lot of people like you isn't enough to keep you fed and clothed. Having them pay you is what does that.

If you're saying you;re being cheated out of a return because of a broken model or through fraud, that's one thing, but entitlement to make a profit just because you produced something is something else entirely.

I'm not being cheated out of anything. But that's because my EP was not created as a profit-generating venture and I'm not trying to make a living from it. I don't think I'm "entitled" to make a profit. I do think the music on it is quite good. I would like it if people who like my music enough to want to possess it would pay for it.

I don't think anyone is out there deciding, on pure economics, that $12 is just too much to spend on Abbey Road, because the music's just not worth as much as a meal for two at Taco Bell. They're taking it for free not because they don't think it has value, but because it's available for free and it does have value.
posted by The World Famous at 11:30 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Considering that neither MTV nor most other so-called "music video" stations haven't played actual music videos in several years now, I'm baffled that a label would actively discourage the embedding of their artist's videos, since YouTube and Vimeo are effectively the only way I or most people I know have ever come across music videos. (By similar measure, the only way I or anybody else heard about the band was because they had very successful YouTube videos. The only way I heard about this video was because of the discussion regarding not being able to embed it.)

In many cases I just flat out assume that most new artists don't even make videos anymore, since it's a $200,000 (or often much more) expense that they owe to their label which will only ever be payable by sales of their CD. The CD itself usually costs from $80,000 - $200,000 to complete (depending on the producer, etc.) Videos are a bloated expense that the consumer never pays to see and which is now not even shown on any kind of music TV station. Why shouldn't fans embed the video?

The band only got signed because their videos were so innovative and most importantly viral.

Further proof that major labels simply do not get it.

ad
posted by adamd1 at 11:31 AM on January 19, 2010


The band only got signed because their videos were so innovative and most importantly viral.


Not exactly, OKGO signed to Capitol in 2001, and the first viral video came out in 2005.
posted by mzurer at 11:37 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, there's a difference between doing something well enough to consider yourself that thing and doing it well enough to make a living at it. I am all kinds of things I'd never put on a business card.

Exactly, which is why playing guitar for friends and family doesn't make you a musician, anymore than winning writing scholarships or publishing in academic journals makes you a poet, or performing in college theater or winning acting program scholarships makes you an actor.

My own understanding of the term "musician" is that it entails knowledge of the business of making a living through music as well as self-promotion and all the other nasty little wrinkles you find in making music as a vocation. Basically, if you meet the eligibility criteria for the local musician's union (assuming there is one in your area), you're a musician in my book. Otherwise, you're a music enthusiast or hobbyist. But obviously, YMMV, and we could argue over the proper semantics all day.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:40 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Considering that neither MTV nor most other so-called "music video" stations haven't played actual music videos in several years now, I'm baffled that a label would actively discourage the embedding of their artist's videos, since YouTube and Vimeo are effectively the only way I or most people I know have ever come across music videos.

Yeah, seriously. How else would one ever see a video these days?
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on January 19, 2010


Entitlement to make a profit just because you produced something is something else entirely.

Likewise, entitlement to use a service you didn't pay for is equally ridiculous.

I'll pay what I think a song is worth. If the artist is asking for more than I think it's worth I won't.

This, my friend, is the wonder of the free market: if you don't think it's worth your dime, or if you think they're asking too much, don't buy it and don’t use the service. The difference here is a case where one does not believe the music reflects the relevant monetary value, but clearly believes the item/service maintains enough value to be listened to, and is obtained for free.

I'm not going to consider the guy who puts out a fire with a garden hose to be a firefighter, or the guy who uses a first aid kit to put a bandage on my scraped knee a doctor, but as a society we've decided these people need some kind of qualification to do this profession. No such requirements exist for music.

I think you’ll find that every day we deem - with our dollars at the record store and the concert venue - those people that deserve the qualification to do the profession. One that cannot meet those qualifications adequately is simply a person who plays music. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I know a lot of people that do pottery. I only know one that makes a living at it. Is she the only artist? The only potter?

Clearly, she is the one who has the talent and the business acumen to allow pottery to become her means of making a living. No doubt you may know someone who is better at pottery, no doubt you may know someone with better business acumen who is worse at pottery. She does both and so yes, it is her rightful vocation. It is now her job to continue making pottery others will pay for, and the duty of others who enjoy her work to pay her for it.

As a side note (completely unrelated to your post), I’m getting a little sick and tired of living in a world where everyone is a writer, a film critic, a musician, a graphic designer, an artist, an athlete and a political strategist, yet do none of these things as a means to make a living or to the extent that each discipline requires, and do them simply as an exercise of affixing silly labels to coddle their narcissistic needs to express an individuality that was never there to begin with. Me me me me me me me me me me me.
posted by tiger yang at 11:40 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's outrageous that we live in an age when it is considered virtuous to be a renaissance man or woman.
posted by The World Famous at 11:44 AM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Here is the best oversimplification (BUT TRUE!) on the whole subject.

We're paying more for access to content than ever before, and the content creators get none of it. (Which is why the UK put a license fee on radio and TVs to support the BBC, a less-bad idea the more I think of it)
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:45 AM on January 19, 2010


I’m getting a little sick and tired of living in a world where everyone is a writer, a film critic, a musician, a graphic designer, an artist, an athlete and a political strategist, yet do none of these things as a means to make a living or to the extent that each discipline requires, and do them simply as an exercise of affixing silly labels to coddle their narcissistic needs to express an individuality that was never there to begin with. Me me me me me me me me me me me.

Exactly. You're not a mechanic just because you rebuilt a transmission once, even if you rightly feel you've got a talent for it.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:47 AM on January 19, 2010


But if your point is that people should go ahead and just take music for free that they don't think is worth the asking price, that's where I disagree with you.

Then we don't disagree. I support an artist's right to control his music for a reasonable time, the ability to try to make a living from it, and the right to charge whatever he wants. I'm not going to buy if the asking price is too high.

I read where you said you would not pay asking price if you think the profit margin is too high. Logically, then, you should be willing to pay more for low-profit products.

Ah, my popcorn and pop reference? That wasn't a profit margin argument so much as it was a price argument. If I have $20 and two artists want my money, and one is selling discs for $20 and the other for $10 and I like them the same, I'm getting two discs. Just as when I want popcorn or pop I'll have it at home because I know I can get something elsewhere for the exact same price or less, then I will. If the theater across the street was selling popcorn for a reasonable price I'd probably go to that theater, but you never get that choice.

At no point am I advocating for free unless the artist want to have it be for free, nor am I advocating that people should steal music.

I would like to have a simple way to buy into an artist's career and get a return for it.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:50 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's outrageous that we live in an age when it is considered virtuous to be a renaissance man or woman.

I appreciate the desires to be virtuous, but it's hardly a renaissance when someone does a ramshackle job of 10 things.
posted by tiger yang at 11:55 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I disagree. I think it makes you someone who doodles on the guitar. The title musician refers to a vocation not an avocation (as in, you know, people who belong to musician's unions are musicians). Building and installing cabinets in your house out of personal interest doesn't make you a cabinet maker (and doing some of your own roofing doesn't make you a roofer).

The point is that lots of people play music as an avocation and lots more people enjoy listening to them, and that the internet matches up listeners with players so that more and more of the people you dismiss as "doodlers" have an audience of people who enjoy listening to them. Which encourages even more people to play music as an avocation.

All of which is such an incredibly good thing, that the (alleged) decline of professional musicians completely pales in comparison.

"Once men sang together round a table in chorus; now one man sings alone, for the absurd reason that he can sing better. If scientific civilization goes on (which is most improbable) only one man will laugh, because he can laugh better than the rest. " -- G.K. Chesterton.
posted by straight at 11:55 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's outrageous that we live in an age when it is considered virtuous to be a renaissance man or woman.

Well, in fairness, I think the commenter was referring to the tendency of people to do things like label themselves "writer" before ever getting published or even producing any serious work, purely as an expression of their aspirational orientations. (As in, "I want to be a writer when I grow up, therefore, I am a struggling writer.")

For my part, I'll admit it: I won acting and writing scholarships out of high school, and could have gone to grad school in writing or philosophy, but I decided to focus on what I was actually doing already, which was music. And that's why, though I'm still plugging away at that Great American Novel (having abandoned my acting ambitions long ago), I'd feel like a presumptuous ass seriously describing myself as a "novelist," or remoter still, "actor."
posted by saulgoodman at 11:57 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would like to have a simple way to buy into an artist's career and get a return for it.

I do love the promise ideas like Kickstarter hold toward this.
posted by kingbenny at 11:57 AM on January 19, 2010


So why not just force the Youtube embeds to play a little ad before the video or popup a text ad, and then have that ping Google's ad server?
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:05 PM on January 19, 2010


saulgoodman: But that's a different case. You stopped doing those things on a regular basis, right? A musician is someone who makes music. If he makes it poorly, he's just a bad musician. When you finish playing a song on a guitar you've made music. When you finish writing your novel, you are correct to refer to yourself as a writer, albeit an unpublished one.

Glenn McDonald can be credibly described as a music writer, even if he is unpaid.
posted by mzurer at 12:06 PM on January 19, 2010


I'm all for ad hoc artist credit systems, especially if it creates derivatives. I could vote with my dollar and sell short on Ke$ha!

Plus, the fads would create little bubbles and busts. If anything, it would make for some fun charts.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:09 PM on January 19, 2010


The point is that lots of people play music as an avocation and lots more people enjoy listening to them, and that the internet matches up listeners with players so that more and more of the people you dismiss as "doodlers" have an audience of people who enjoy listening to them.

I don't mean to dismiss anyone. I want things to be better for everyone. Including but especially those extraordinary people who put in the extra work to master playing in odd meters and who's life experience or talent makes them capable of producing art of that's exceptionally technically or aesthetically accomplished.

Music should be played and appreciated at all levels, and is an essential part of cultural transmission. But that has to also include the stuff that takes real labor and commitment to accomplish. If we're basically going to throw out all music that can't be made in one's spare time on a shoestring budget, we'll only be screwing ourselves. We had that already, and always will, without any need for "music" as a special category of human pursuit.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:11 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


This has been a useful discussion that's really sorted out the issues for me and changed the way I think - and I'm sure I'm not the only one!
posted by Sebmojo at 12:17 PM on January 19, 2010


When you finish writing your novel, you are correct to refer to yourself as a writer, albeit an unpublished one.

Well, "writer" is a title I will claim for myself since I have a degree in it, have worked professionally as a technical writer and have published poems in a couple of credible academic journals, among other things. But "novelist"--well, that one's going to take some more work.

posted by saulgoodman at 12:32 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's the part of this I don't understand at all. The band says that EMI owns the videos and won't let them be embedded. And then towards the end the band says "In the meantime, the only thing OK Go can do is to upload our videos to sites that allow for embedding, like MySpace and Vimeo.".

Why is the band allowed to upload to embedding sites such as MySpace and Vimeo if EMI does not want embedding?
posted by gfrobe at 12:34 PM on January 19, 2010


The problem I have with Kickstarter is that it's usually one time reward for a donation.

I'd love a pay-per-play option for songs. There's plenty of music I don't want to own, know I'll only listen to it once or twice, but I still pay the same amount for a song I'll play 100 times.

I'd love to buy in at a reasonable price for an artist early on and get access to exclusive tracks and new releases (I'd pay premium prices for something like this).

I don't think paying for access to Pieta Brown's catalog should cost the same as buying into her dad's, but I'd have been willing to put $100 toward her career if it meant I'd get a return on my investment (again, not in money but in access).
posted by cjorgensen at 12:35 PM on January 19, 2010


I find it's always pretty easy to tell the artists who work in easily-duplicable/stealable mediums and would like to be financially compensated for their creations and intellectual property apart from... well, the people who would like to duplicate and steal their creations and intellectual property.

Recorded music is in an especially unfortunate situation right now because it is incredibly easy to duplicate and steal.

But let's be honest about what we're talking about. You can tart it up as much as you want in "new model this" and "data wants to be free that" and "corporate fatcats the other" -- but it's still stealing. It's ironic to me that people who would never think of skipping out on a restaurant bill, or sneaking into their accountant's office and taking their prepared tax returns without paying, or shoplifting a laptop computer, or even stealing cable television from their neighbors somehow are able to download entire albums without paying a penny and believe they have a clear conscience. The musicians and engineers (etc.) who made those recordings did no less work than your accountants, doctors and lawyers in performing their jobs, and the musicians deserve to be compensated for their work.

The manufactured outrage over the supposedly high cost of recordings is equally fatuous in consideration of the fact that recordings have likely never been less expensive than they are today in inflation-adjusted dollars. 78s back in the 1920s went for around a dollar apiece, which equals around ten bucks in today's dollars. And that was for only one or two songs!

The irony is that if so many people weren't stealing so much music, OK Go's label would be happy for their music videos to be embedded free of charge.
posted by slkinsey at 12:40 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


If we're basically going to throw out all music that can't be made in one's spare time on a shoestring budget, we'll only be screwing ourselves.

But who suggested this?
posted by symbollocks at 12:42 PM on January 19, 2010


They won't let you embed their music video? Pshaw - they should have turned the problem on its head, and made a music video letting you to embed yourself into it.

Oops - done: C-Mon & Kypski's More is less.
posted by progosk at 12:45 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The letter from OK go was interesting and informative and I wouldn't have listened to the album otherwise, but I listened to it and bought it. So thanks!
posted by shothotbot at 12:54 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good question, gfrobe. Do Vimeo and MySpace have different compensation models or something? Why isn't this an issue with them?

But who suggested this?

Fair point, this was in response (with an extra measure of self-righteous hyperbole thrown in for color) to this more modest comment:

All of which is such an incredibly good thing, that the (alleged) decline of professional musicians completely pales in comparison.

People didn't just start making and sharing their own music as hobbyists when the Internet came along. The driving factor in any increased activity of the kind the original commenter is describing has, IMO, been due mainly to improvements in consumer recording technology. More people have access to the means of production to produce reasonably good sounding recordings now. The Internet, if anything, has contributed to that "incredibly good thing," which I agree is a good thing as far as it goes. But the Internet didn't bring it about. And file sharing specifically has very little to do with that, when you consider that the most popular music downloads seem to be the products of the majors and big indies anyway.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:57 PM on January 19, 2010


It's ironic to me that people who would never.....

Holy crap I just stole your words that's just like stealing a laptop.

The irony is that if so many people weren't stealing so much music, OK Go's label would be happy for their music videos to be embedded free of charge.

I'm not sure how you come to this conclusion.
posted by inigo2 at 1:23 PM on January 19, 2010


It's ironic, given the way the album cover was inspired from Andy Gilmore's work.
posted by joydrop at 1:31 PM on January 19, 2010


I look forward to your socialized music. I bet its about as much fun as it sounds.

Well, if there's one thing that captures the imagination of youth everywhere and epitomizes the spirit of rebellion it's rich old men making money.
suppose you're a writer and just as you wrapped up three years of work on your new novel, before you even had a chance to pursue publication or any other potential sources of income for your work, someone leaks a copy online, it gets a few thousands reads and even enjoys some degree of minor popular success, but when you go to shop the thing around, there aren't any potential investors willing to help you raise the capital to put the damn thing out and really promote it because it's already been released for free.
It's more like, you write a novel and distribute it for free and a bunch of people read it. Then you ask for an advance on your next novel. Plus, songs are only five minutes. You don't take three years to write one song (usually)
Exactly. You're not a mechanic just because you rebuilt a transmission once, even if you rightly feel you've got a talent for it.
But you do become a 'motorist' every time you get behind the wheel. Different labels require different levels of commitment.
posted by delmoi at 1:39 PM on January 19, 2010


Holy crap I just stole your words that's just like stealing a laptop.

Okay. So, how would stealing a song be different from stealing your lawyer's or accountant's work product?

Meanwhile, it's a bit juvenile (not to mention incredibly insulting to artists) to equate pasting a sentence in a discuission board with stealing a recording.
posted by slkinsey at 1:43 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what sucks about Metafilter? We have to click through links rather than just see stuff embedded right on the homepage. This results in dozens of inconvenient extra clicks per user each day.

Have you no consideration, Haughey?

(Geographic content restriction really is complete BS, however, and whenever I encounter it, I want to send a postcard to the company in question that says "Hi, I encountered your geographic content restriction on content x. At first, it was a little frustrating for me to find out you didn't want me to view, enjoy, become a fan of, or talk about content x, potentially even becoming part of a fanbase that represents a potential revenue stream. I thought about trying to work around this, but really, you're the copyright owner, and let's face it, it's a big world with lots of things to enjoy, right? So if I'm not wanted, the only ethical thing to do is to be pretty strict about avoiding content x in favor of, say, content y, who's being pretty agreeable and relaxed about the whole thing. It just seems important to stay on the same page with your content owners, you know?

Just thought you might appreciate a little note letting you know about my commitment to that. content x is now safe from my viewing and enthusiasm in any form. -W")

posted by weston at 1:45 PM on January 19, 2010


But you do become a 'motorist' every time you get behind the wheel. Different labels require different levels of commitment.

Yikes, wanted to avoid the semantics debate, but here goes: Is this really one of those cases though? Is it really sensible to consider the term "musician" analogous to descriptive nouns like "motorist" or "pedestrian"? Are there a bunch of highly-competitive Motorist academies out there, where you can get an expensive graduate degree in driving your car around town? Are there secret motorist societies with histories dating back to Pythagoras? Should we consider "AAA" a "Motorist Guild" comparable to the various musician's guilds that have existed throughout history?

While your general point is a valid one, its application in this particular case seems like a pretty serious stretch of history and reason to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:58 PM on January 19, 2010


My own understanding of the term "musician" is that it entails knowledge of the business of making a living through music as well as self-promotion and all the other nasty little wrinkles you find in making music as a vocation.

So the term "amateur musician" is, in fact, an oxymoron?

Seriously, that's a very weird angle to take. Someone quits an orchestra to take over their parent's farm, and they're suddenly not a musician any more? That's just wrong - they may have given it up as their profession, but that's their professional status, not their musicianship. All the factors you mention can be equally implied by using the word 'professional' (or even 'semi-professional' if you want further granulation) in front of 'musician'. That's why we *have* adjectives in the first place! Words don't just mean what you want them to mean.
posted by Sparx at 2:02 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay. So, how would stealing a song be different from stealing your lawyer's or accountant's work product?

Downloading a song does not take away an artist's time. Working with your lawyer or accountant takes away their time.

Meanwhile, it's a bit juvenile (not to mention incredibly insulting to artists) to equate pasting a sentence in a discuission board with stealing a recording.

If copyright infringement is stealing, then all copyright infringement is stealing. You don't get to pick and choose. While it is a stretch to call quoting your words infringement, note that comments here are owned by their author.

All that said, I told myself a few of these FPPs ago that it isn't worth discussing what I consider to be these flawed analogies, since it'll just come up again and again. So I'm done.
posted by inigo2 at 2:07 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hm. I think it's sort of silly to argue the semantics of word definitions on Metafilter. But I have always considered the term "musician" to describe a person's relationship with music, rather than the relationship of a person's music to their livelihood.

I mean, those people posting awesome music on MetaFilter Music, for example? Are at least some of them not musicians? Are you saying that, no matter how good I am at composing, playing, recording, and producing music, and no matter how much of my life I dedicate to it, I am not a musician because it is not my profession?

Indeed, if the term "musician" carried with it a definitional necessity that the person described be a profesional maker of music, then the term "professional musician" would be redundant and unnecessary.

By the same token, if someone asks me what my profession is, it would be incorrect for me to say "I am a musician" in response to their query. Likewise, if you were to ask what the professions of Steve McQueen and Paul Newman were, the answer would not be "racing driver." Nevertheless, I am a musician and they were racing drivers - just not professionally.

Basically, saulgoodman, I understand your reasoning, but you are using a personal definition of the term "musician" that is different from the one used by pretty much everyone I know, including every professional musician I know. You can choose to have your words mean something other than what others understand, and that's fine. But it may cause some communication issues, such as derailing a MetaFilter thread while you explain your non-standard word usage.
posted by The World Famous at 2:09 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


If copyright infringement is stealing, then all copyright infringement is stealing. You don't get to pick and choose. While it is a stretch to call quoting your words infringement, note that comments here are owned by their author.

If someone took all of your comments and posts from MetaFilter and made them the content on their blog, would that be stealing?
posted by The World Famous at 2:14 PM on January 19, 2010


"Musician" simply means "one who makes music," and in that sense can include a performer, conductor, or composer. That said, the association of this word with a person who does these things professionally has been around for something like 500 years. Most people who would self-describe as a "musician" are likely professional or aspiring professional musicians (much the same could be said for self-described cooks, writers, etc.).

One does hear the description "professional musician" a bit -- most likely because nowadays there are any number of amateur musicians who take their music-making seriously, especially in the popular forms, and so people feel the need to specify that a person makes music for a living. But still, "amateur musician" seems more common and apropos.

For myself (and I am the kind of musician who makes money at it), I suppose I would most strongly associate the term with a certain level of skill, commitment and seriousness if I were going to call someone a non-prefixed "musician." Personally, as a singer in the "classical" tradition, my favorite is those who would like to differentiate "singers" from "musicians." We love that. :-)
posted by slkinsey at 2:17 PM on January 19, 2010


Are you saying that, no matter how good I am at composing, playing, recording, and producing music, and no matter how much of my life I dedicate to it, I am not a musician because it is not my profession?

Actually, no, that's not what I mean. I haven't done a good job of explaining myself apparently. It's the degree of commitment and level of activity generally that makes or doesn't make a musician to me. My grandfather could play a little rhythm guitar and he used to drink beer and jam with his buddies a lot as a younger man, but he wasn't a musician. He didn't take it seriously enough. He didn't commit to making music--he just enjoyed playing a little rhythm guitar now and then with his buds. That's good stuff, no doubt about it, but my grandfather would never have claimed to be a musician. Looking back, I probably overemphasized the professional career aspects of it (which should factor in, but not be deciding). But in any case, it is a derail, so sorry.

Anyway, I'm still curious about the point made upthread about VIMEO and MySpace embeds of the video. Why is EMI allowing those embeds, given the circumstances? What do those sites do differently in terms of tracking compensation?
posted by saulgoodman at 2:24 PM on January 19, 2010


Downloading a song does not take away an artist's time. Working with your lawyer or accountant takes away their time.

Why is this a meaningful distinction?

Besides, who says that downloading a song without paying doesn't take away the artist's time? The artist certainly spent lots of time creating the recording with the express purpose of making income from those efforts.

Are you suggesting that people should be able to take and use anything duplicable without compensating the creator so long as the time invested in creating that thing wasn't devoted to a discrete client?

The only meaningful difference between stealing an artist's song by downloading it, and and stealing a lawyer's legal strategy by breaking into his office and photocopying his legal briefs is that it's a lot easier to steal the song.
posted by slkinsey at 2:26 PM on January 19, 2010


Recorded music is in an especially unfortunate situation right now because it is incredibly easy to duplicate and steal.

But let's be honest about what we're talking about. You can tart it up as much as you want in "new model this" and "data wants to be free that" and "corporate fatcats the other" -- but it's still stealing. It's ironic to me that people who would never think of skipping out on a restaurant bill, or sneaking into their accountant's office and taking their prepared tax returns without paying, or shoplifting a laptop computer, or even stealing cable television from their neighbors somehow are able to download entire albums without paying a penny and believe they have a clear conscience. The musicians and engineers (etc.) who made those recordings did no less work than your accountants, doctors and lawyers in performing their jobs, and the musicians deserve to be compensated for their work.
You realize you can replace journalism in the above argument, right? Yet most every newspaper in the US has its content crawled and often displayed by google (sure, they can opt out, but then they'll have no audience, so they get the choice between exposure or invisibility with neither paying them). As much as it would be nice if it weren't the case both print and music are going to be casting about for a new model until something is found that works.

Personally, I think the end for corporate control of both is coming to an end, but regardless of what you may think the future will hold, regardless of what you would like it to be, this you can bank on: it is changing and won't be like it is now.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:02 PM on January 19, 2010


It's the degree of commitment and level of activity generally that makes or doesn't make a musician to me.

I very much agree with this. For things that require practice, or more, a practice, I don't think it's adequate to discount that practice when drawing the boundaries of inclusion.
posted by OmieWise at 3:21 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Glenn McDonald can be credibly described as a music writer, even if he is unpaid.

That seems to be the crux of this discussion: the word credibly. Why feel the need to include the word? If he writes, he's a writer, right? Why does he need to be credibly described thus?

Because it's harder to describe someone who strums his Gin Blossoms covers once a month for friends as a "credible" musician, that's why. Just like my stapling a shingle to my shed roof makes me a roofer, but with no credibility whatsoever.
posted by scrowdid at 3:22 PM on January 19, 2010


Why feel the need to include the word? If he writes, he's a writer, right? Why does he need to be credibly described thus?

Because the context of the present discussion is whether or not the application of the term "writer" is accurately - or "credibly" if you will - applied to one who is not paid for the work.

Because it's harder to describe someone who strums his Gin Blossoms covers once a month for friends as a "credible" musician, that's why.

And yet, you could describe the Gin Blossoms as "musicians," even though they haven't released an album in years.
posted by The World Famous at 3:29 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is television, not music, but I thought this CNN piece was pretty interesting when I came across it while composing my Craig Ferguson post:
The strongest evidence [that online video is beneficial]: An experimental "brand channel" YouTube launched in mid-October for CBS (Charts) in the hopes that it would become the model for other old media partnerships. The press mostly ignored the deal's announcement at the time, most likely because it fell on the same day that Google bought YouTube.

It's worth circling back now. As part of the deal, CBS agreed to offer free video clips for downloading. In return, the media company gets to sniff around YouTube for any content bearing its copyright. CBS can then choose between removing the offending clips or getting a cut of the revenue YouTube generates from any advertising linked to the clip.

The result? By Thanksgiving, CBS had uploaded 300 clips that caught the attention of nearly 30 million pairs of eyeballs. More than 35,000 consumers have subscribed to the free channel. More importantly, the shows that CBS was pushing online suddenly became bigger hits on regular old television too.

Take David Letterman. The late-night talk show host gained an extra 200,000 viewers shortly after his YouTube debut. Craig Ferguson, host of The Late Late Show, saw his audience increase by seven percent - all in a little over a month.

Given that the month was November, a "sweeps" month in which audience ratings determine how much a network charges for ads until May, YouTube gave CBS an early holiday gift. CBS, with a strong overall lineup, finished the month as the most watched network among all age groups and tied for second in the most coveted demographic, 18 to 49 year-olds.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:35 PM on January 19, 2010


You realize you can replace journalism in the above argument, right? Yet most every newspaper in the US has its content crawled and often displayed by google (sure, they can opt out, but then they'll have no audience, so they get the choice between exposure or invisibility with neither paying them). As much as it would be nice if it weren't the case both print and music are going to be casting about for a new model until something is found that works.

Yes, but (typically) the Google link to the NYT article will feed the article the web metrics it needs to assuage online advertisers to continue advertising, which is something they need desperately right now. The comparison would be apt if every download included an ad hit where the site's owner could give a share of the ad profits to the content's creator ala YouTube. Given the breadth and scope of illegal downloading, we know this is not the case.

Personally, I think the end for corporate control of both is coming to an end.

Not when corporations own the sites where content is shared, not when the top 5 ad conglomerates are now opening specialty shops solely for the purpose of making embedded viral content. Arguably, we have now opened the door to more corporate control, because the new model of content places us at the whims of the advertising industry and thus, corporate messages. Same rules, different overlords. Unfortunately, in this case the diminishing returns of the new market and its growing pains have been passed hardest onto the artist.
posted by tiger yang at 3:50 PM on January 19, 2010


The problem with calling illegal downloads 'stealing' is that they aren't. Stealing is a crime. Downloading isn't. It's a civil matter. And the RIAA only go after people who distribute (although with a torrent that point is largely moot).

The other problem is that its essentially un-policeable. All the RIAA can do is crucify a few hapless filesharers pour encourager les autres. In the absence of a technological solution (DRM for music I think we can agree is dead in the water at this point) there is simply no way to put the genie back in the bottle.

However, musical content can be monetized in many ways besides people paying directly for recorded music. Music is used in films, in ads, on TV. It can be used in streaming radio. It can be watched on YouTube. It can be used to cross-promote not just live performances, but DVDs of live performances. And so on and so on and so on.

Let's say I want to post a video to YouTube and use band X's music. Why can't I simply split the ad royalties with them from the number of views it gets? Or if that isn't good enough, why can't I simply pay them (say) $10 and subtract X cents every time someone watches it? After 1000/x views I can choose to top up, or not, or we can come to some other arrangement.
posted by unSane at 3:54 PM on January 19, 2010


When it comes to digital goods, the inconvenience of the payment process is a major issue; the peculiar thing is that it's a narrowly technical problem, one solvable... but the Powers That Be haven't felt enough pain to get together and erect some new overarching system.

As long as people have to pull out their credit cards to make a purchase, instead of just pressing a button via a stored PayPal/Amazon/DigitalGoodsRUs account, or better, being invisibly billed via some micropayment scheme, very few people will pay. (Not surprisingly, it's been the pirates who have been laying out a framework for avoiding transaction-annoyances, via a buffet model: "We've stolen a bunch of of stuff you want, and agglomerated it in a digital warehouse by the digital waterfront. Just pay us a tiny door fee, and you can have it all!")

The physical act of pulling a credit card out of a wallet and typing in one's name, address, credit card number, and expiration date is a very high barrier, one surmounted only by the most motivated of potential fans and customers.

Blah blah blah present system unsustainable; Live Tours and t-shirts and not-alienated noble proletarians sustained by their love of working the soil blah blah blah great if you're twenty-eight, not so great if you're thirty-three; blah blah blah micropayment.

Dead horse beaten; I go home now.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:59 PM on January 19, 2010


I had to come back into this thread to say that my Father, MY FATHER, has just shared the Vimeo link to that video with all his friends on Facebook.

Truly, we are through the looking glass.
posted by Jofus at 4:00 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sucker
posted by Duke999R at 5:03 PM on January 19, 2010


Cool, let's continue to base our assumptions on the rampant cultural stereotype of the rockstar who sleeps in until 3PM. I've met a lot of very hard-working people in rock bands. Much more hard-working than my 9-5 software ass.

Anyone who's been in a band knows that there are workers and there are slackers, but being in a band means you can't just fire the slackers out of a cannon without having to undergo a VAST amount of bullshit replacing them. So, yeah, lots of people in the music biz work pretty hard, but lots of them also have enormous personality problems and addictions which they bring to work (gigs, recording studios) with them. And as their bandmates you put up with them and deal with them because often the grief is worth it (until the band finally splits) and creative biznesses are different.

The guy who built my house would fire people for walking across a floor in dirty shoes (the alternative was getting into a fistfight with him). He would have murdered the people I've been in a band with.

I once was in a band with a drummer who was fired from his Dilbert job for whipping the guy in the next cubicle with the power cord from his computer.
posted by unSane at 6:57 PM on January 19, 2010


I once was in a band with a drummer who was fired from his Dilbert job for whipping the guy in the next cubicle with the power cord from his computer.

You had me at "drummer."
posted by The World Famous at 7:15 PM on January 19, 2010


Is clicking through a link to youtube really that difficult? Just write in your blog "the video cannot be embedded, click the link to watch.

Also, despite the success of the treadmill video, OkGo has always been corporate shills. Shit at the height of "here it goes again" they were showing the video instead of performing the song live at their shows.
posted by djduckie at 7:16 PM on January 19, 2010


OK Go is a pretty good band but they'd be even better if they would make another video that's done entirely in one take

oh wait
posted by NoraReed at 7:45 PM on January 19, 2010


Actually a lot of people actually just listen to music through youtube. They have youtube playlists going in the background. Kind of crazy, and of course that means no one ever sees the ads. I read that on some "web 2.0" blog but I've also seen multiple non-technical people do it with my own eyes.

This is how my 11-year old daughter listens to music while doing her homework. Welcome to the networked future.

It boggles my mind (waste of bandwidth, processing power, etc.), but heck - it works...
posted by jkaczor at 11:24 PM on January 19, 2010


The gillie suits are a nice touch.
posted by daHIFI at 7:12 AM on January 20, 2010


Is clicking through a link to youtube really that difficult? Just write in your blog "the video cannot be embedded, click the link to watch.

But why should I have to send someone away from my site when I don't have to? Or conversely, why should I be forced to view the content on that site? I'm not a fan of YouTube. I find it ugly, stupid, and annoying. I do use it some, but I'd be more inclined to roll my own before relying on content I can't display locally.

When you make it even slightly difficult for people do do something, a lot of them won't. I have never signed up for free NYT access because I don't want to have to be bothered with another username and password for content I can get elsewhere (that and I don't think they need to know anything about me). Many of the people who have pirated Abbey Road have done so because they can't get it in another manner legally or easily (not defending).

This is the reason that the "can't be seen in your area" blocks do work. The vast majority of computer users are unaware this can be circumvented and many people are like me and can't be bothered.

I have tons of sites I seldom go to because ithey're now hard to use or they force a style sheet on me.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:49 AM on January 20, 2010


I once was in a band with a drummer who was fired from his Dilbert job for whipping the guy in the next cubicle with the power cord from his computer.

I thank you for that great little story. Doesn't sound like he was necessarily 'lazy' =)
posted by kingbenny at 7:56 AM on January 20, 2010


No, he wasn't lazy at all. He was also a very mild person, generally speaking.

As I understand it, the argument was the culmination of a long-simmering disagreement about the placement of the position between their cubicles. Whenever one of them left the desk, the other would move the partition an inch or two into the other's space to make their cubicle bigger.

I guess my point was that his reaction was extreme but not completely unheard of in the music biz and would not necessarily have gotten him kicked out of the band.
posted by unSane at 8:37 AM on January 20, 2010


-position +partition
posted by unSane at 9:00 AM on January 20, 2010


However, musical content can be monetized in many ways besides people paying directly for recorded music. Music is used in films, in ads, on TV. It can be used in streaming radio. It can be watched on YouTube. It can be used to cross-promote not just live performances, but DVDs of live performances. And so on and so on and so on.

The musicians and composers I know working in the entertainment industry are getting paid less and less for their work in film/ads/TV because, in this era of desperation, so many people are willing to give away their music for free just for the exposure. Among other reasons.

DVDs of live performances are good but they're going to be in the same boat as movies once the bandwidth bottleneck widens a little bit.

Most live performances don't pay that much. I know people like to chant the LIVE PERFORMANCES mantra as if it will save them, but the problem is a lot bigger than that. And older, as many people have pointed out.
posted by speicus at 10:20 AM on January 20, 2010


The musicians and composers I know working in the entertainment industry are getting paid less and less for their work in film/ads/TV because, in this era of desperation, so many people are willing to give away their music for free just for the exposure. Among other reasons.

Wow, it really seems like musicians should just organize. Oh look they did, over a hundred years ago.

If musicians don't organize it's pretty much a guaranteed race to the bottom for them. The problem is that making music isn't like accounting, it's fun for a lot of people and there will always be a large pool of people who would love to 'make it' and make music for a living. It's only going to get worse as technology allows people with only average talent to produce really fantastic sounding work.
posted by mullingitover at 8:21 PM on January 20, 2010


It's easy to come up with these pat answers like "musicians should organize," but the problem is right there in your next paragraph. Even if 90% of musicians organize, there will still be that 10% who are doing it "for fun" or don't know any better, and it only takes a few scabs crossing picket lines to render that organization next to useless. Interestingly, composers are the only people in the film and TV industry who don't have a union. And composition is one of the most labor-intensive artistic endeavors I know of.

I'm skeptical that technology will ever allow people with average talent to create fantastic music. If present trends are any indication, it will create a huge glut of mediocre music ("check out this loop I made!"). And if your comment is any indication, it will contribute to the mistaken impression that "anyone" can make fantastic music, and people will lose the ability to tell the difference between fantastic and mediocre music. I hope I'm wrong about that.

Personally, I feel like the only answer is that we have to shift the focus away from the product (individual songs and pieces of music), which we already know people don't particularly value, and put the attention on the producers of music themselves, which I think people do value. In the future, I think the most successful models will be things like Kickstarter, where the artist is subsidized by their public following, a sort of micro-patronage.
posted by speicus at 10:37 AM on January 21, 2010


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