Monday, September 21, 2009

Lily Allen gets James Blunt approval

Lily Allen has moved her file-sharing campaign to a new blog, You've got to give her points for using a Billy Bragg lyric, and for being quite honest, in the URL - although might have been even more honest.

So, who's rallying to Lily's call? James Blunt, that's who. Lily has scanned in a letter in support of her that James has sent to the Times (And I'm curious, Lily, as to why that use of copyright material is fine when filesharing isn't?).

Since Blunt is the sort of artist who exists solely because of the power of major labels to force any old toot on the public, it's not surprising that he's happy to keep the majors in business:

Sir, I want to put my hand up in support of Lily Allen (Thunderer, Sept 16). She’s asking British musicians to galvanise over a serious crime: the death of a great British industry — our music business.

The death of the music business might be serious, and it might be tragic, but it's not exactly criminal. That's what happens in a free market from time to time.
The world over, people are stealing music in its millions in the form of illegal file-sharing.

Did Blunt read this letter out loud before he sent it? It's not very sure-footed for a songwriter, is it?
It’s easy to do, and has become accepted by many, but people need to know that it is destroying people’s livelihoods and suffocating emerging British artists.

Cliff Richard has - I know this for a fact - had to start turning his underpants inside out as he can only afford to go to the launderette once a month now, and Dappy from N-Dubz is having to keep his shifts on down the arcade. It's a tragedy.

Blunt doesn't seem to think that the music industry as it worked since the industrialisation of recorded sound might also have suffocated emerging British artists, but then he has about as strong a grasp of history as he does of language.
The music business is made up of thousands of jobbing musicians, producers, mixers and engineers creating and shaping popular music and culture, but illegal file-sharing is cutting off the income from their work.

... if you make the massive assumption that a file shared is a sale lost; and if you believe that there's some reason why the rates for the job in a world where distribution was limited should be the same in a world where distribution is virtually unlimited.
Without the revenue from established artists, record labels cannot fund emerging musicians.

... not even in the 'one album and if you don't recoup, you're dropped' model that has been pissing on dreams since the 1980s.

Blunt, you'll note, just assumes that the only way to fund musicians is by a record label putting the money up front. That's the way it's always been done, so why should we even think of changing it?
They’ll just re-master the Beatles albums again, because they can’t afford to put an amazing new band into a studio to record something that may surpass Sergeant Pepper.

Given the amount of cash spent on the Beatles re-releases, there doesn't seem to be any shortage of cash sloshing about when they want to find money to buy the front page of the NME. It's pitiful to suggest the conservatism of the labels is a response to filesharing - the reissue-instead-of-develop-talent model has been a staple of the music business ever since it realised it could flog everyone the same records they already owned by putting them out on CD.

John Harris has also used this "there won't be a new Beatles unless we kill file-sharing" argument, which somehow ignores that the UK music industry hasn't created anything like a Beatles in over 40 years. It's barely been able to scrape together a Duran Duran in the last twenty.
At long last the Government is looking to legislate to protect the industry. Peter Mandelson is looking to engage the internet service providers who, in my opinion, handle stolen goods, and should take much more responsibility.

Handle stolen goods? I've ragged on James Blunt quite a bit in the past, and always have that little guilty voice at the back of my head: "What if he isn't a bad chap? What if he's an alright sort of person who just happens to have the musical appeal of a chocolate box kitten?" It's nice to discover he really is a bit of an arse. Handling stolen goods, indeed.
How this legislation pans out, and if it goes through at all, is critical to the survival of the British music business...

No, James; it really isn't. If you pushed all file-sharing out the picture, the British music business is still going to have to face some lean years. If you're lying in the desert, chained to posts, your problems won't vanish if you can scare off the buzzards.
...critical to thousands of jobs; and critical to our ability to nurture and develop great musicians...

No, James; it really isn't. Nurturing musicians has nothing much to do with organising dump bins of CDs for Asda, booking a quarter page in the NME or ensuring a delivery van arrives at HMV Kettering on time. If we want to nuture great musicians, let's take the money that people keep saying ISPs should be collecting, and use it to invest in a network of music teachers and instruments for every school instead of passing it straight to companies which happen to have bought out some intellectual property rights.

But this isn't about encouraging the next generation of artists; it's those who have already made it trying to prop up a system which sees them doing alright, still.


Anonymous said...

Spoiled rich brats of the world unite!

Really. Why should I listen to a pair of morons, who have never lived a day in their lives without a silver spoon in their mouths, moan about money? They have, at best, a minimal understanding of both art and their industry. More importantly since both have entered the business since the popularisation of illegal downloads neither has any place in complaining about anything relating to them. They chose to get into a profession where they would have been well aware of the fact that this "threat" exists. Nobody forced them to become "musicians" (quotations because I don't consider either to be worthy of the title). If today I suddenly decided to start a career in lamp-lighting I don't think many people would take me seriously when I began to complain about people using electricity. Bloody people using candles and lamps in their homes are putting me out of a job!

Anonymous said...

More quite astonishing nonsense! Can they really believe that file-sharing will stop future generations from becoming musicians? I can accept that it may stop SOME people from deciding "musician" is a viable career option - but surely that is a good thing. A world without all those horrible derivative careerist wannabe's? Yes please.

Great art will out. We all know that the best music has historically been made by those who are driven to make it by an inner creative force (rather than an obligation to hounour a crippling record contract).

Robin Carmody said...

The new middle class is, indeed, far, far worse than the old one.

And it is they who are the *true* reason why there cannot be a "new Beatles" (not that there needs to be).

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