Monday, June 30, 2003

MUSIC PEOPLE LINE UP TO PRAISE THEIR MASTER'S CAMPAIGN: For various reasons - as part of contract renegotiation, or trying to bury remarks about George Bush once and for all, and maybe even because they're not very bright - people from the lower reaches of the Top 40 are lining up to throw thier weight behind the unseemly campaign of dragging individual file sharers into court:

Grammy-winner Sheryl Crow said, "Music fans cannot expect their favorite musicians to continue to produce quality albums if they are not willing to pay. People, including musicians, expect to be rewarded for a job well done. It's all about supply and demand. If there is not demand, there will eventually be no supply."

Is Sheryl saying that if the record is done badly, then we shouldn't have to pay? It's lucky she's chosen to release blousy music rather than enter economics as a career, since the problem here has nothing whatsoever to do with supply and demand - indeed, the problem is that there's too much demand, surely? Still, interesting that her music only exists when it sells - if nobody wants it, then it will cease to be, she's explained. Whatever happened to art for arts sake, eh?

Mary J. Blige said, "If you create something and then someone takes it without your permission, that is stealing. It may sound harsh, but it is true."

Well, if we're going to get philosophical, then no it isn't stealing, quite. You don't have to seek permission to buy a record every single time - quite often there's not even any implicit permission from the creator (for example, when the record label sells tracks to the Now franchise, that's usually done without reference to the creator of the track at all). The issue was about payment, not permission, surely?

According to the Dixie Chicks, "It may seem innocent enough, but every time you illegally download music a songwriter doesn't get paid. And, every time you swap that music with your friends a new artist doesn't get a chance. Respect the artists you love by not stealing their music."

Nope, not the case, Dixie Ladies. If you make an illegal download, yes, the songwriter doesn't get paid. But that doesn't mean they're losing anything - it's only if you download a track you would otherwise have bought that the songwriter makes any sort of loss. And in many cases, swapping music is the only way new artists get a chance to be heard - especially what with Clear Channel closing down the radio to newcomers. Banning filesharing outright will do more harm than good to new artists. How many bands did you discover because friends made you mix tapes?

Actually, you know, Vanessa Carlton surprised us by showing a little more understanding of the complexities than the others:
"I'm all for getting a taste of something before you buy it, but when it becomes more than a taste and people begin hoarding the entire work, it becomes piracy which results in a system in which artists are not being rewarded for their works."

And, yeah, we'd say yep to that. How did the RIAA let through a statement which allows that some downloads aren't totally, inherrently, irredeemably evil? Heads, we're sure, will roll.

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