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Why I love free music!

permalink   Thu, Jan 24, 2013 @ 7:34 PM
In the last few years, I’ve noticed that most of my favourite tunes are from free distributing artists, the few commercial albums I’ve bought have been from artists who’ve contacted me directly to tell me about their music.

There’s a great line in The Jam’s “Going Underground” - “the public get what the public want, or the public want what the public get”. A lot of mainstream music seems to be the latter these days.

I’m happy to pay for music, but I like that music to still be free in another sense of the word - free expression. It doesn’t matter to me if the act is a trendy indie band or disposable teenybop- as long as it’s from the heart. Career paths are for bank workers and the like not artists- the artist to me wants to create art and if money and fame come along, that’s a bonus.
In yet another sense of the word “free”, great music cries and inspires freedom, as opposed to conformity. I’d rather have an artist make a statement I disagree with than have an artist putting on a front and shutting up just to not rock the boat.

One of the saddest thing has been the equation by some in the industry of alternative business models such as creative commons and copyright theft. After all, with the artist’s permission, the work can be licensed commercially. Look at commercial software such as Chrome and Android, instead of complaining about Linux as a threat, they’ve built on it and made a commercial success. This shows that free software can create a market as opposed to destroying one.

If music was software, anyone who wrote a driver for Linux would find themselves unable to get a job for a commercial developer- this seems madness!

Popular music today is too much of a cartel with a handful of people controlling everything from the output to radio playlists. This is what kills scenes, corporate sausage machine mentality.

Thanks to all on this and other cc music sites for putting in the effort to bring music back to the people by producing output which has love in it. We’re stoking the creative fire that’s been smothered so badly by corporate greed and lack of imagination.

If you’re a commercial record exec reading this- it’s not an attack, but a suggestion- there’s money to be made in selling a better product with lower costs involved.

A profession scene isn’t possible without a healthy amateur one- if there were no kick abouts in school playgrounds and sunday players meeting a pub car parks, there’d by no Premier League, because there would be no way for talent to rise.
permalink   Sat, Jan 26, 2013 @ 3:02 PM
I agree with your post. The “public will want whatever the public gets” mentality seems prevalent in the industry. And I’m glad to see the steady increase in poplarity of indie music. That’s a win-win for everyone. Creativity must flow freely - unhindered. If it does not, then an essential essense is lacking.

But while you mentioned a “cartel”, I think your post left out the crux of the matter. The music industry is a lot like politics: What matters most is who you know and how much you can grease palms. Some may say getting that “big break” is a matter of having a successful manager or producer with an established relationship with a certain label. But more than that, I think it comes down to payola.

I think it’s a lot more prevalent than most realize. PBS has aired some documentaries and interviews on the subject. For example, this Newshour interview: Pay for On-air Play
Quote: RAY SUAREZ: Well, music industry giant Sony BMG Music Entertainment has agreed to pay a $10 million fine in a settlement over allegations of illegal payola, or pay-for-play transactions between its representatives and radio station programmers.
Quote: RAY SUAREZ: Well, Sony BMG agreed to pay a $10 million fine in the context of a $300 million promotion budget. Is it a big fine?

CHRIS STERLING: No. It’s a big fine to any of us, thinking about $10 million, but, no; it’s pocket change. It’s a cost of doing business.

And there’s much more, if one looks. Here’s an article on wiseGEEK about loopholes that are taken advantage of.
Quote: Some record companies have found ways to get around payola laws, such as using third party promotional tools to get radio stations airing specific songs more often. This sometimes skirts the line of legality.
People who don’t have the connections and ability to get around payola laws may find their albums getting less air play. This can reduce sales, make it harder to get bookings for live events, and otherwise interfere with the development of a career.

And this Modesto Radio Musium article on payola scandals is revealing:
Quote: In 2003, Cliff Doerksen of the Washington City Paper, wrote that payola isn’t really back - just back in the news. Payola has been a constant universal part of the economy of popular music for about 125 years, and the likelihood that legislators will be able to do anything constructive about it is about a high as the odds of winning the war on drugs. It was old when ragtime was new, and it still will be going strong long after rock ‘n’ roll has died.