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so, i banged-out an email to peter saint-andre last night, who's work with jabber the protocol and jabber the company , i've admired for years [ and, in the interest of full disclosure, i might as well admit that peter's surveyor code, um, inspired pixie ]. the initial reason for the e.mail was pretty mundane, he mentioned that he was from maine and since i'm from maine, i thought i'd send a friendly "ayuh" and see if it really is a small world after all. these are the things you do if you're from maine.

much to my surprise, he actually took the time to link to the vast wasteland and bring up a very interesting point about the my recent post on music distribution [ i'd link to the permalink, but blogger has eaten it ] - namely the differences between recording and performance musicians:

"Of course, most musicians make money through performing, teaching, and the like, not recording. But given that I'm in substantial agreement with Glenn Gould about the value of recording over performance, I wonder what free filesharing will imply for the recording musician."

normally in situations like this, i'd fall back on a quote from ian mackaye who is one of my early, early influences [ warning: adult language ]:

"Napster may go by the wayside because it may just sell out. That's apparently what's going on now. But people will continue to find ways to share the music that has affected them. With Napster and the sharing of music, of course, there are going to be people who exploit it. Greed has no end. But there's a lot of good that could happen. We shouldn't let the economic concerns of the major labels infringe on our freedom to share music. Fuck 'em."

but that doesn't really count, because ian is the posterchild for a performing musician and doesn't properly reflect the needs of musicians who focus on recording over performing. steve albini kind of gives me something to work with when it comes to recording contracts:

"Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end, holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed.

Nobody can see what's printed on the contract. It's too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody's eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there's only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says, "Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim it again, please. Backstroke."

but besides being tragically amusing, steve isn't just wedging the recording musician between the proverbial rock of file-sharing and the hard place of recording contracts. hmmm. maybe robert scoble is on to something:

"So, what does the "music stealing" software do for me? Easy, it lets me try music out before I head down to Tower records and buy it.

I don't get why the executives and store owners don't understand this.

I'd buy even MORE music if I had a clue of what I was looking at. For instance, I was looking at the bins the other day and there was a DVD Audio by "Train." Now, I have no clue who Train is, so I didn't buy it. But, I asked around and one of my friends sent me some MP3s and I liked them, so I went down and bought the DVD Audio disk.

That's $25 that the music industry would never have gotten if I wasn't able to check music out before hand.

Is that stealing? Am I a thief? Well, I guess the music industry thinks I am. Hogwash.
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3/20/2002 12:45:00 AM 0 comments


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