The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle


1:00 pm - October 30th 2009

by Unity    


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Given that Peter Mandelson is the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (amongst other titles) I’d guess there’s a sense in which he could be congratulated for Wednesday’s announcement that the government plans to press ahead with a ‘three-strikes and you’re disconnected’ assault on file-sharing.

If nothing else its a major boost for the development of ‘darknets’ and anonymous file-sharing systems.

It should really come as no surprise that a recent YouGov poll (pdf), commissioned by the Open Rights Group, found that 68% of those surveyed felt that file-sharers should only be disconnected from the Internet as a result of a conviction in a court of law. Net savvy consumers are well aware of the fact that the music industry’s lobby propaganda on file-sharing doesn’t add up and that it massively overplays its legal position, even if seems to get away with operating its own private ‘police force’ much too easily for comfort and many appear willing to make their displeasure known at the ballot box – 44% indicated that they would be less likely to vote for a party that supports disconnection as a sanction against file-sharers.

ISPs are, naturally enough, unhappy to find themselves facing yet another demand from government that they become outsourced Internet policemen and even the Featured Artists Coalition stopped short of backing the government’s disconnection proposals, even after Lily Allen’s intervention, and settled for supporting bandwidth throttling as a sanction for persistent copyright infringement.

WHY LILY ALLEN GOT IT WRONG

The Featured Artists Coalition’s stated position on file-sharing is that they ‘believe the creative work of artists should be paid for by those who enjoy it and that whenever our music is used, royalties should be paid’, which is only what you’d expect from an organisation set up fight for musicians to have more control over their own work, but  as their response to the government’s consultation on file-sharing shows they’re also highly sceptical of both the industry’s ‘lobbyist propaganda’ on the alleged impact of file-sharing and of the wisdom of targeting fans who use P2P systems to preview music before buying with draconian sanctions.

It’s actually an intelligent and well thought-out response, especially when contrasted with Lily Allen’s extended whinge, which utterly misses the point, particularly in this section:

“You don’t start out in music with the Ferraris. Instead you get a huge debt from your record company, which you spend years working your arse off to repay.

“When you manage to get a contract, all those pretty videos and posters advertising your album have to be paid for and, as the artist, you have to pay for them.

“I’ve only just finished paying off all the money I owe my record company. I’m lucky that I’ve been successful and managed to pay it back, but not everyone’s so lucky.

“The more difficult it is for new artists to make it, the less new artists you’ll see and the more British music will be nothing but puppets paid for by Simon Cowell.”

Allen has since cut and run from the debate due to the negative reaction her comments drew.

To understand why Allen is wrong here, at just about every turn, we need to delve into the murky world of recording contracts and distribution deals and look at how the music industry treats the people on whom its relies most, the artists themselves – and to save time and make things a bit easier to understand I’m going to try and visualise things for you.

So, let’s start by looking at a bit of old media, the compact disc album, and where the money goes when (if) you buy one.

CD - revenue breakdown

One quick clarification, the figures given above are not the actual breakdown for Muse’s recent album, for which they’ll almost certainly have received more than the 12% artist royalty rate (and that’s on the wholesale, not retail price) on which this is based. All I’ve done is use their cover artwork because it makes for a nice pie chart.

I won’t bore you the detailed calculation, suffice to say this is approximately how the revenue per track gets broken down for a newly signed artist on their first deal with a major label based on their releasing an 11 track CD album at the standard list price of £16.99 (£1.54 per track). This is before any discounts and doesn’t take in account the fact that about half the VAT is likely to be reclaimed somewhere down the line, but not until after its sat in an HMRC bank account for a while, accruing interest. If an when the VAT gets reclaimed, it boosts the bottom lines of the label and wholesale distributor, but not the artist.

All told, the artists’ take is a base 7% of the retail price of each track, rising to a tad over 10% if they’re writing their own material rather than doing covers or buying in material from a songwriter/publishing company, while the record label trousers a tidy 22% of the retail price, and maybe a fair bit more if, as the majors do, the label, or its parent company, runs its own distribution/wholesaling operation.

That is, however, only the start of the story, because out the 11-16p per track the artist receives, they will eventually have to pay for the full costs of recording and marketing the album, including any videos, posters, artwork and other promotional materials, the upfront costs of any touring they undertake to promote the album, which they’ll hopefully cover from ticket sales and, of course, any management fees they might have to shell out to their own Mister 10%.

Unless an artist, or their manager, can afford to hire a specialist lawyer to represent them then record labels will do everything they can to offload as many of their costs as humanly possible onto the artist – just about the only thing that labels will willingly cop for is cost of physically producing the CDs, which could eat into their share of the revenue by as much as 5-6p per track if the album sells only a few thousand copies or less than a penny a track if it goes multi-platinum.

Now, lets look at another pretty picture and a couple of different business models that currently operate in the digital download market.

Digital breakdowns - major label vs CDBaby

The iPod on the left shows the per track breakdown for, again, a new artist on a major label while on the right we have the breakdown that an unsigned artist can expect if they distribute their material via CDBaby.com.

In both cases, distribution is via Apples iTunes, for which Apple takes 23.1p per track to cover its costs, including payment processes. VAT payments to the government drop by 80%, in part due to the lower retail price of the track (79p against £1.54 per track for the CD) and in part because cutting the wholesaler out of the loop removes two stage in the distribution process at which VAT can be levied, and in both cases the mechanical royalties (Mech-R) which covers payments to the publisher, songwriter and the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society’s commission are the same.

The big difference between the two models lies in how the remaining revenue is split between the label (or CDBaby) and the artist, where the major label takes 84% of the net revenue per track against the 9% commission that CDBaby take for promoting the track on their site and arranging for its distribution via iTunes.

Of course, artists that go with CDBaby don’t get their upfront recording and marketing costs covered by their record label, but then these will eventually have to be paid for by the artist even if they sign for a major and, in the mean time, CDBaby aren’t demanding that the artist sign their creative life away.  CDBaby will also handle production and distribution of CD albums, charging a flat $4 per unit with the artist then being free to set to their own retail price,while for direct download sales through their own site rather than via iTunes, they’ll pay the artist 75% of the retail price compared to the 12% of the wholesale price that a new artist on a major label could reasonable expect.

That might sound like I’m shilling for CDBaby, which I’m not – there are other similar independent ‘labels’ emerging offering similar packages. I’ve picked on this one company as an illustration not only that there are alternative music business models emerging but that at least some of these new models are considerably more artist-friendly than the played-out major label model that Mandelson seems so very desperate to prop up long past its use-by date.

The industry bodies that serve the interests of the major labels, like the BPI and FACT, would have us all believe that file-sharers are a bunch of free-loading ‘thieves’. Some probably are but many more of us -and, yes, I do include myself here – have simply grown tired of the chiselling attitude of the major labels to the point where we no longer want to do business with them, not when we know that there are alternatives out there that allow us to cut out some of the middle-men and properly reward the creativity of musicians.

UPDATE

Neil’s just reminded me of Dan Bull’s delightful response to Lily Allen, which deserves an airing, if only to entertain everyone who stuck with this post right to the end…

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'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Reader comments


I’m so disillusioned about the way record companies behave that I’ve stopped buying music completely – I support artists by seeing them on tour & maybe buying the odd bit of merchandise. I don’t think I’m atypical in this regard. I’d suggest the record companies’ behaviour acts as a disincentive to innovation because so many consumers are so fed up of the way they conduct themselves that they act entirely outside the market (and the law), rather than looking for the better parts of it.

2. organic cheeseboard

Just on Lily Allen:

When you manage to get a contract

She’d had a contrcat for several years before her first record came out, and she got it because of her parents’ connections. So much for ‘Simon Cowell puppets’ – one of the best things about X-Factor is that people don’t get rich purely on the back of who they’re related to quite as much as they used to.

all those pretty videos and posters advertising your album

Allen’s career was launched via a PR campaign that involved her pretending to upload ‘demos’ to a myspace account she was made to constantly update.

Just as she was doubtless ordered, by her label, to mount these defences. And she only backed own when she relised just how unpopular her view is.

She’s been a major label stooge from start to finish.

@4 – this is good (if you haven’t already seen it):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL9-esIM2CY

Like many people I assumed the Swedish Pirate Party was a joke, like our Monster Raving Loony Party or the Greens, but actually they’re Sweden’s fastest growing political organisation: their third largest party, in fact (match that Griffin!)

File sharing and challenges to intellectual property rights are set to be major issues over the next few years.

5. david brough

Lily Allen went to fucking private school, and is from a wealthy family who gave her a leg up. She can fuck off with her sob stories, I’ll spare my sympathies for people who are losing their jobs thanks to Thatcherite “free market” fucking shite.

On interesting side issue here is that the spooks at MI5 are reported opposed to the three strikes policy on the grounds that it will push the development of darknets and heavily encrypted e-comms systems and make the software needed to implement them much more widely available.

If large parts of the net go dark to avoid the file-sharing police, they reckon they’ll be screwed for monitoring extremist chatter.

Unity – can we be sure someone’s not already hiding their communications in a Lily Allen torrent? Now there’s a sobering thought – not only is her music shit, it could also be dangerous.

8. Derek Bryant

It’s good to see the Labour Government supporting the Luddites. Of course there’s a difference this being New Labour & Baron Mandleson the Luddites are not poor croppers in the West Riding woolen district in 1812 or hand-loom weavers during the less well-known campaign against powerlooms in 1826 they are rich & powerful Luddites demanding that the state provides intensive care for their golden egg-laying goose

“You don’t start out in music with the Ferraris. Instead you get a huge debt from your record company, which you spend years working your arse off to repay.

Yes. You sold yourself into a modern form of indentured servitude for the sake of fame. Boo hoo for you.

Derek Byrant @ 10

Good point, Derek. When technology takes away other people’s livelyhood the victims are told to retrain and get new jobs, when multi million pound record producers lose out the Government machine powers up and the tanks are parked on the lawn of the teenagers lawn.

No ‘code of conduct’ or ‘light touch’ regulation or sympathy, but no action. When the rich and powerful lose out the wankers at New Labour pull out all the stops to prevent them losing out. Yet everybody’s else job can be replaced at the drop of a hat? Perhaps the record companies should ‘modernise’ and change their work practices like everyone else has had to do in the face of new realities. No? The Government will enforce tough new laws to save their bacon.

Mandleson should fuck of.

@6 Shatterface: Like many people I assumed the Swedish Pirate Party was a joke, like our Monster Raving Loony Party or the Greens, but actually they’re Sweden’s fastest growing political organisation: their third largest party, in fact (match that Griffin!)

People may wish to know there is now a Pirate Party in the UK. We’re not yet as big as our Swedish friends, having only been in existance for 3 months (they have 3 1/2 years head start on us), but we have a reasonable chance of getting people elected under PR elections such as the Scottish, Welsh and NI elections in 2011, the London election in 2012 and the EU election in 2014.

@12 Jim: When technology takes away other people’s livelyhood the victims are told to retrain and get new jobs, when multi million pound record producers lose out the Government machine powers up and the tanks are parked on the lawn of the teenagers lawn.

And when the content corporations themselves infringe copyright — which they do on a regular basis — the government doesn’t threaten to cut their internet access off. Funny, that.

Just goes to show how the whole file sharing argument at its intelectual is really a proxy for leftist vs rightist views of property ownership.

By and large, the rightwing view of the protection of property ownership has resisted attempts and indeed overcome past successful attempts to socialise property on one form or another (housing, industry, inherited wealth etc).

However as digitisation of intectual preporty has proceeded, and the ease of which historic property protection laws can be flouted has become pervasive, then the notion of property owenership is now being attacked again.

Somehow we have moved from a mindset where (say) the property aspects of the LP was largely repected, principlally because you had to go and physically buy it from someone who made it, to one where because it is a mpeg file, it is ephemeral, and thus people tell themselves it is not property, because you can’t hold it.

Of course intellectually, this does not stack up, so it morphs into an attack on the evil capitalist major record companies and that somehow their conduct makes them fair game. (not a new line of attack that one though – been around along time)

The technology is driving the argument, and will continue to do so for some time to come as innovation continues to drive change.

It kind of reminds me of the days when Internet gurus proclaimed that the internet was the ultimate force for breaking free of the state because the state could never track people on the net. It was simply not how the net worked.

Well bollocks that has turned out to be, and I suspect that technology will eventually allow IP owners to track and control indvidual files on a practical way, and the debate will end, as the concept of property ownership willl reassert itself.

The other bollocks that the same gurus spouted was that the near zero cost of distribution that the net brings meant that you do not need the likes of the record companies anymore. Time has show that this missed the point. Because there is so much content available now, the marketing departments are now even more important than they used to be. A private individual can never hope to match the marketing budget of large corporates. And it is that marketing that allows particular content to be heard above the noise.

New techniques like viral marketing, have turn out to be new techniques, that empower not the individual artist, but the marketing professional.

Of course individual examples can always be cited to the contrary, but the charts are routinely filed with major label back content. And even then, the content that shines out is that which already had the greatest awareness amongst the populous.

The evil capitalist record companies will still get it in the neck from the left though. And the evil capitalist record companies will make money out of that too. Just like they did before.

@15 dontmindme: Just goes to show how the whole file sharing argument at its intelectual is really a proxy for leftist vs rightist views of property ownership.

I disagree. 3-strikes is just as popular for leftwing govmts (Britain) as it is for rightwing ones (France).

because it is a mpeg file, it is ephemeral, and thus people tell themselves it is not property, because you can’t hold it. Of course intellectually, this does not stack up

I disagree. And note that most societies (including contempotary Britain) give more rights to real property (physical objects) than they do to imaginary property (ideas, and streams of 1s and 0s). For example, in the UK, copyright and patents are time-limited.

I own a sofa. I can arrange the cushions on it in any pattern I like; if I couldn’t it would reduce my rights to my property. I also own a hard disk, and I can arrange the magnetic alignments on it in any pattern I like; if I couldn’t it would reduce my rights to my property. So to the extent that you believe in rights to real property, you cannot also believe in rights to imaginary property.

It kind of reminds me of the days when Internet gurus proclaimed that the internet was the ultimate force for breaking free of the state because the state could never track people on the net. It was simply not how the net worked. Well bollocks that has turned out to be, and I suspect that technology will eventually allow IP owners to track and control indvidual files on a practical way, and the debate will end, as the concept of property ownership willl reassert itself.

I disagree, for reasons I give here. Essentially, govmts have a choice: accept that file sharing will go on, or ban the internet. No sensible govmt will ban the internet, so file sharing will continue.

15. Shatterface

People may wish to know there is now a Pirate Party in the UK. We’re not yet as big as our Swedish friends, having only been in existance for 3 months (they have 3 1/2 years head start on us), but we have a reasonable chance of getting people elected under PR elections such as the Scottish, Welsh and NI elections in 2011, the London election in 2012 and the EU election in 2014.’

I had heard of the UK Pirate Party and I was pleased to see that it, like the Swedish version, also supports privacy rights and free speech.

Early days yet but I’ll raise the Jolly Roger for now.

“I disagree. 3-strikes is just as popular for leftwing govmts (Britain) as it is for rightwing ones (France).”

I was talking about the different beleif basis of the views, not the dumb policies of the British Government.

“I disagree. And note that most societies (including contempotary Britain) give more rights to real property (physical objects) than they do to imaginary property (ideas, and streams of 1s and 0s). For example, in the UK, copyright and patents are time-limited.”

Actually corporate copyright is immortal.

“I own a sofa. I can arrange the cushions on it in any pattern I like; if I couldn’t it would reduce my rights to my property. I also own a hard disk, and I can arrange the magnetic alignments on it in any pattern I like; if I couldn’t it would reduce my rights to my property. So to the extent that you believe in rights to real property, you cannot also believe in rights to imaginary property.”

If the arrangment of the cushions encoded information that when read back with appropriate technology played a tune, then you woiuld have a mechanical device for music reproduction. If the tune it played was written someone else who had not given you permission to store that tune on your sofa, then you would be breaching copyright. IP is as real to the creator as the painter of physical canvas, the writer of the printed novel, or the author of sheet music, and you do not have the right to steal that property. If you do not accept that then you wont mind if I take your words and reproduce them as my own whenever I please, you wont mind if I take your name, the electronic contents of your bank account and any other aspect of your life which is an abstract concept and not a touchable object.

“I disagree, for reasons I give here. Essentially, govmts have a choice: accept that file sharing will go on, or ban the internet. No sensible govmt will ban the internet, so file sharing will continue.”

Well as I said, a lot of cogent arguments were made to say that the internet guaranteed anonymity in the past. Turns out to be untrue. A way will be found to distribute data in a way that preserves ownership rights.

@16 Philip Hunt: “And note that most societies (including contempotary Britain) give more rights to real property (physical objects)…” and “I own a sofa.”

Alternatively, you could get a sofa for your home on a licence agreement. I don’t know whether anybody does this, but theoretically you could pay rent for a sofa that you never actually own. The closest would be an HP agreement, where you rent and eventually own after a final payment.

Until the final payment, the agreement may prevent you from transferring the sofa to another party (ie second hand sale) or from transforming your sofa into three chairs (ie the equivalent of burning a CD into individual MP3 tracks in a different recording format).

Does IBM sell mainframes, or does IBM grant you a licence to use their physical and intellectual property for your own enterprise? I suspect the latter still applies.

So law does not give different rights to physical property. It’s just that owners of intellectual property (generally) use licence agreements, and physical property owners (generally) sell objects. But those are general rules that do not apply to all trading circumstances.

@8 Unity: “If large parts of the net go dark to avoid the file-sharing police, they reckon they’ll be screwed for monitoring extremist chatter.”

You should be ashamed, Unity, for spreading misinformation. If terrorists are using darknet techniques and encryption, their communications are going to be unreadable in real time anyway. The only relevant factor is that increased peer-to-peer use of darknet will increase the overall volume of encrypted traffic. However, router stats should still identify end points for criminal and terrorist comms.

BTW, I suspect that encrypted traffic from PCs hijacked by malware for criminal purposes already outweighs terrorist traffic.

The thing about these freeloaders is that they never talk about books (or poetry or scientific papers or anything in words). Literature needs the web, but only the scientific/academic publishers are making any money from it. Academic publishers are delivering more information than ever before, but you can only access it from a university or well funded library. Irrespective of what Google are doing this week, the majority of copyright works are inaccessible cheaply in any useful form to most people.

The freeloaders argue that musicians should give away recordings to promote their gigs and sell T shirts. I’ll ignore the inherent economic idiocy. But what about writers? Please give away your paper on administration of methyl methacrylate to albino rats and I’ll buy your hat. I’ll even go to your reading at Waterstones wearing my “Philip Roth: What a Hunk” hoodie.

20. Shatterface

You’re starting to drivel now.

First you complain of the poor availability of academic material then you complain academics won’t make any money if that material is shared.

Which arguement do you want to make?

Ok, vested interests out of the way first – I’m a musician who’s trying (in a very small way) to sell their music online. I’m not expecting a “celebrity lifestyle” out of it, but given that bass strings are about £25 a pop, and I’m a single parent (definitely *not* working for “The Man”), it’d be great if the 1% of folk that my minority-genre-noises might interest felt it was worth handing over 50p (or more, if they felt particularly generous) in return for a high-quality download under a creative commons license.

For details of extremely intelligent ways that t’internet can be good for musicians, I can’t recommend visiting http://www.stevelawson.net highly enough (and he’s an excellent bass player, too).

Anyone who thinks the current economic model for the music industry is viable is deluding themselves. Sure, the traditional record companies will still trot out the pop moppets (Lily…!), Radio 1 will have its pathetic daytime playlist, and folk will still buy what the marketing teams are pushing in large numbers, BUT…

file-sharing isn’t going to go away. And, Charlieman, it *can* be used in musicians’ favour – it’s all about trying to build a more direct, personal relationship with your audience, principally through gigging (which I’m screwed over just now, because of the single parent business), and effective use of the net. Offer some stuff for free (sorry, I’m slowly trying to record more tracks, so that I can do exactly that, but yep, you guessed it, it’s the parenting thing. again), some for sale. Offer special bonus tracks which are only available for those who pay. Heck, one guy was including pdf’s of the sheet music as part of a bundle of documents – notes on the recording, photo’s, etc. Get the folk who download for free to sign-up to a mailing list…etc,etc

And yes, merchandising, (if you’re in the right genre), can be far more lucrative than any other part of the business. But that, in a way, is about the relationship with the audience – they want to identify publicly with an artist, so they buy the T-shirt, hoodie, wristbands, keyrings, etc. Ok, sometimes they’re just looking for clothes that’ll piss-off their parents, but still…

This isn’t some utopian file-sharers-are-decent-folk-who’ll-pay-because-they-think-I’m-nice scenario. Some people out there are simply freeloaders, who don’t see why they should pay for anything unless its completely unavoidable, certainly.

It’s reality. And the sooner ‘real’ (ooh, I’m such a muso snob) musicians get on board with it, and start making it work for them, the better.

But like I said, check out SteveLawson.net, he makes it all sound far more sensible and plausible.

Oh, and I’m at http://www.AndyGilmour.com.

Cheers!

@21 Charlieman: The thing about these freeloaders is that they never talk about books (or poetry or scientific papers or anything in words). Literature needs the web, but only the scientific/academic publishers are making any money from it.

If by freeloaders you mean the Pirate Party, that’s not true. Pirates all over the world think that all publicly funded research should go into open access journals.

The freeloaders argue that musicians should give away recordings to promote their gigs and sell T shirts.

Again, not true. Pirates argue that it’s not their business to tell musicians (or anyone else) how to earn their living.

But what about writers? Please give away your paper on administration of methyl methacrylate to albino rats and I’ll buy your hat.

You’re an idiot. Most scientific research is publicly funded.

Unity, thanks for a really excellent and informative post.

You should be ashamed, Unity, for spreading misinformation.

Really? Try telling that to The Times, SOCA, The Met’s e-crime unit and the spooks at MI5 and MI6…

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6885923.ece

Law enforcement groups, which include the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and the Metropolitan Police’s e-crime unit, believe that more encryption will increase the costs and workload for those attempting to monitor internet traffic. One official said: “It will make prosecution harder because it increases the workload significantly.”

A source involved in drafting the Bill said that the intelligence agencies, MI5 and MI6, had also voiced concerns about disconnection. “The spooks hate it,” the source said. “They think it is only going to make monitoring more difficult.”

Now what were you saying about spreading misinformation?

@26 Unity The newspaper report about what the spooks are saying may be true, but what the spooks are saying is false.

Encrypted traffic has been rising year on year for entirely legitimate reasons: corporate VPNs, commerce, webmail etc. It’s also been rising for peer-to-peer services (which may be legitimate as well as freeloading) in order to evade router blocks and traffic shapers. Blaming freeloaders for making life difficult for the spooks is a hollow argument if legitimate encryption users are having the same effect.

The last paragraph of your quote includes an element of truth. Disconnecting suspects will make it more difficult for the spooks. I’m sure that it’s equally inconvenient for the spooks if suspects lose their mobile phone on the bus or get evicted for non-payment of rent.

@24 Philip Hunt

I agree that publicly funded academic research should be in the public domain. However I also believe that private organisations who create intellectual property deserve protection. The Swedish Pirate Party suggests that copyright should be limited to five years; thus if it takes four years and 364 days to successfully market or fulfil your product, you earn no reward. That’s going to encourage creativity, isn’t it?

Freeloaders are the ones telling people how to run their business by denying them the ability to sell their creation. Freeloaders are effectively imposing a maximum retail price of zero for anything that can be encoded digitally. Most people who bash away at the keyboard or guitar to make something aspire to be musicians or writers or moviemakers, rather than novelty clothing vendors.

“Most scientific research is publicly funded.” Most made up statistics are wrong.

“You’re an idiot.” Given that most of what you say turns out to be the opposite in reality, I’ll take that as a compliment.

Most people who bash away at the keyboard or guitar to make something aspire to be musicians or writers or moviemakers

And nobody’s stopping them. Even on the most extreme-liberal conceptions of copyright law, said individuals would merely have to bash away for fun rather than for profit. Anyone who that’s going to stop (someone who has no compulsion to create but only does it for the money) would have been a lousy artist anyway.

Clearly when it comes to areas like software development, where it is realistically mostly about the money, the forcibly-free model is harder to sustain.

…and most actual scientific research is publicly funded. It’s only hugely expensive Phase II and III drug trials (which aren’t really scientific research) that skew the overall spending data.

John b

“Clearly when it comes to areas like software development, where it is realistically mostly about the money, the forcibly-free model is harder to sustain.”

Wot?

Because its is art it can not be about the money? You clearly dont have the first clue about writers/musicians/movie makers/video game developers.

Especially in the movies/video games, because of the sums of money involved in the creative process, it is absolutely all about the money.

Thats why this debate is so surreal. People are ignorant enough think that the creative process is somehow made cost free by the net, and that therefore there is no crime or loss involoved. Worse people like you seem to beleive that artists dont deserve to be compensated. Unbelievable.

@31, of course video games are about the money, that’s why I singled software out as a case where the forcibly-free model is hard to sustain.

But writing a song, a poem, an article or a story simply *is* cost-free, and anyone who’d refuse to write songs, poems, articles or stories just because they’re not being paid is neither an artist nor a creative person.

(for example: are you being paid to comment here? If not, why are you doing it?)

32.

1) Video agames are a creative processs, that involves story writing, music composition, and these days movie production, and a whole lot of other creative steps. It does this solely to trade pleasure for money with its customers

Musicians trade pleasure for money with their customers
Movie makers trade pleasure for money with their customers
Authors trade pleasure for money with their customers

Unless you believe all creative industries should be state owned, I fail to see how they are expected to be able to make a living to continue being creatives?. Or perhaps you think that all artists should suffer a paupers life as only the true artist will work for nothing and happily accept starvation as the price of their creative genius?

What aspect of the video games industry make it entitled to earn money from its products that is different from the movie makers, song writers, music performers, or book, screenply, or play writers?

BTW I do not make a living from commenting here. I am not a professional commentator. Some people of course do make a living from being professional commentators.

32.

Further, of course I am not saying artists are entitled to a living. Quite the opposite. What i am saying is that if you want to enjoy thier work, then they are entitled to expect you to pay for it one way or another.

If you dont want to pay for a particular bit of work, then fine. dont watch/listen/play it. No one forices you to buy it if you do not want to wach/listen/play it.

Also Song, poem , script work is not cost free. it may have few materials required to create them, but it does require time and devotion of effort. and that is not free.

“Unless you believe”, “Or perhaps you think…”

You do a lot of this, dmm, and you shouldn’t.

DMM: you’re assuming the truth of the statement “it is right for the government to grant individuals the power to say who can and who can’t use particular ideas”.

I’m not sure what philosophy you’re basing that on on – but utilitarian philosophy would suggest the opposite, that anything which can be distributed at no marginal cost should be made available to everyone, because that makes everyone better off. And libertarian philosophy would also suggest the opposite, that the government has no business dictating who can and who can’t use particular ideas.

The exception, from a utilitarian point of view if not a libertarian one, comes if the resulting lack of money flowing into the industry means that people don’t actually create the work. Which would be the case in drug development without patents, and in software development and mainstream film-making without some kind of copyright protection – but which emphatically would not be the case in pursuits like writing and songwriting, which can easily be carried out in one’s spare room in one’s spare time (even if one works full time).

So in response to “What aspect of the video games industry make it entitled to earn money from its products that is different from the movie makers, song writers, music performers, or book, screenply, or play writers

…the answer is “because otherwise it couldn’t exist”.

(as it happens, my personal view is that a version of copyright, albeit with radically reduced term limits, should exist for writing and music, because that’ll mean that we get better researched books and more polished albums, which leave us better off than otherwise would be the case – but that’s a purely utilitarian trade-off on the basis of outcomes. The case I’ve outlined above is at the very least defensible).

35. Should I not? Why?

36.The move industry would not exist otherwise. The publishing industry would not exist otherwise, the recorded music industry would not exist otherwise. All of these invlove massive costs not related to the distribution process.

All of these have non zero distribution costs as well. (The electronic file distribution is not the only part of the process.)

None of these have ever existed outside earning income from someone. The Church, the State, private commerce have all funded the creative industries over the centuries. They do not exist in a vacumn (economically speaking)

Quoting utiliarianism and libertarianism as excuses to steal the work of others is a fig leaf to conceal the theft.

This has nothing to do with the control of ideas. That is a red herring. The law simply realises that not all things that are created are physical, and that the works of labours is credited to those labours. The law of theft does not apply to democracy because it can not be stolen (except by Nu Lab Home Secretarys that is). The law of theft (or coyright infringment) does apply to song writing because their right to a living via the fruits of their labour can be stolen

@37:
Publishing an eBook is free (or at least, it’s a fiver for webspace and ten minutes to PDF the thing). Recording music on your computer and putting it on myspace is free. The only cost is people’s time, and if they love writing and music then they’ll be happy to invest that themselves.

And the law of theft doesn’t apply to songwriting, that’s the whole bleedin’ point. There is no difference, philosophically or morally, between an idea for a drug, an idea for a song, and an idea for a means of political organisation – it’s just that currently, governments seek to incentivise the creators of the first two and have no particular interest in incentivising the creators of the third…

39. Err I think you will find that copyright does apply to a song composition and it belongs to the creator. Otherwise EMI would not bother to maintain the vast library it does.

Individuals have a 50 year copyright on the songs thery write. Coprorations have copyright in perpetuity.

That copyright is infringable and is actionable.

Coprorations have copyright in perpetuity.

Where do you get that idea from?

John b,

“The only cost is people’s time”

ermm…nope. sorry, that’s not quite right. For some forms of on-line music, all you need is a computer (plus appropriate soundcard & software).

For others, well, as I mentioned above, my bass strings (5-string double-ball-end fretless, or 6-string fretted, since you didn’t ask, nor was anyone interested) are £25 or so per set. If I don’t change them (when they start to rust, practically), it affects the performance of the instrument, and the quality of my playing/recordings, thus diminishes the enjoyment of the listener.

I’ve slowly assembled my gear over the last 20 years or so (with many mistakes along the way) for as little as possible, but I think you’ll find that instruments, amps, mics, etc still require money :-) Fixed costs, dude!

Of course, I don’t regard myself as having a right to any great return on this personal investment, but if anyone likes my stuff, it would only be decent of them to make a small contribution (of which c.90% goes straight to *me*, no record company involved – Paypal eats a bit, but that’s fair enough) which would help me offset these costs.

Now, it could be argued that the best way of rewarding an artist you like would be to download their albums for free, but then send them cash/paypal direct…I’d be happy to receive any donations via Paypal, by the way, andyhgilmour@hotmail.com :-)

Oh, and I offer my stuff under a creative commons license, so please feel free to share it/publicise me, that’s great – but I think you’ll find that ultimately, it’s still *my* stuff… :-))

Cheers,

ANDYGILMOUR.COM

Voyou 59. My mistake, Corporate owned copyright is tagged to the original creator(s) and therefore is still time limited. Song writing is life + 70 years, song performance recording is 50 years from first performance (sort of)

In order for a piece of art, be that music, film, poetry, prose, painting etc., to be created requires time, equipment, consumables etc.

In the case of creating a piece of music at home, you need to purchase a reasonably powerful computer. You need to purchase the software used to record the sounds and either spend time teaching yourself how to use it properly or pay to go on a course. For vocals you need a microphone (the best you can afford). You need to buy instruments, spend the time (years) learning how to play them to a high enough calibre. You need to buy an audio interface to get the sound into the said computer. You need a recording space treated to make the audio record correctly. If you only play one instrument, guitar say, you need other musicians, drummers, pianists, singers etc. to play on your track. These might be friends who do it for free or session musicians who will charge you.

What I am attempting to show is that it is not a zero sum game. It costs in terms of time (hours and hours and hours) and money (see below) to create a track. The distribution is just the final stage.

The figures, if anyone is interested may look something like this though it could be much more or less:

£1,900 – Mac G5 Pro
£ 399 – Logic Studio software
£ 249 – Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 firewire audio interface
£ 250 – mid range vocal microphone
£ 259 – M-Audio ProKeys Sono 88 Digital Piano with USB Interface (assuming you
don’t want fully weighted keys then you are into thousands)
£ 321 – Decent piano samples (eg Stienberg The Grand)
£ 600 – mid range Acoustic guitar
£ 500 – assorted preamps, cables, synths, desks, stands, acoustic treatment
£ 250 – Monitor Speakers
£ 250 – 2 x 19″ widescreen displays
£4,978 Total

These are just some typical pices of kit in a home studio able to produce near release level tracks. Please do not argue with choices I have made for examples as there are almost infinite combinations. You may also wish to buy drum machines, bass guitar, amplifiers etc. etc. etc.

Aye, and gbp5k is hobby money (and while I’m not questioning your choice on the music kit, any £1k PC would easily be good enough for any purpose, no matter how high-end).

plus you could save a few bob on the software…

@64 😉

Indeed, I personally wouldn’t go near a Mac and would use PC but the fact remains that to produce high quality products requires significant investment in equipment. You could, and a lot of people do, use a Mac Book at £800 and Garage-band.

@64, one assumes you are not advocating pirate copies of software? 😮

Why no! I’ve heard good things about http://www.cockos.com/reaper/ – or you invariably get some version of one of the big 4 when you buy a bit of hardware.

(of course, if you want a job in a pro studio you probably need to know Logic or protools, so none of that helps much, but we’re not talking amateur any more either.)

@67 True. I was trying to show the non-musicians/home recordists that you need a lot of kit which costs money by giving a few examples of kit that might be found in a mid end home studio. The argument that the end result should be given away because the marginal cost of distribution are low to zero does not therefor stack up because the fixed costs, as above, plus, of course, electricity, mortgage/rent on bedroom etc. etc.

@67 I’ll check out Reaper.. thanks for tip

@50 John B: “…and most actual scientific research is publicly funded.”

Try telling that to the shareholders of IBM, Intel, AMD, 3M, Hitachi, Sony, Samsung, LG, Mitsubishi Heavy, Shell, BP, Boeing, Qinetiq, BNFL and every other company that performs basic research. If everything that is worth discovering is found by publicly funded research, those shareholders are being royally ripped off by hobbyist scientists.

Johnb,

£5,000 is “hobby money”?

Sorry, but that’s more than a little patronising, 5 grand is more than 35% of my gross annual income.

If, of course, you’ve got that kind of cash just lying around spare, please feel free to spread some of it around a little…

:-)


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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    RT: @Glinner: Have a look at the system Mandelson wants to preserve #threestrikes http://bit.ly/23k27V (via @loveandgarbage)

  2. Fabienne

    The Great Rock’n'Roll Swindle http://ff.im/-aKpy6

  3. David Spurr

    Great piece on the wrongness of reasoning for the 3 strikes law http://bit.ly/3sktX1

  4. Hirsty

    Yikes! RT @Glinner Have a look at the system Mandelson wants to preserve #threestrikes http://bit.ly/23k27V (via @loveandgarbage)

  5. Rich Huxley

    RT @Glinner: Have a look at the system Mandelson wants to preserve #threestrikes http://bit.ly/23k27V (via @loveandgarbage) < a "must read"!

  6. Adam Carter

    RT @Glinner: Have a look at the system Mandelson wants to preserve #threestrikes http://bit.ly/23k27V

  7. Andy Boyd

    Have a look at the system Mandelson wants to preserve #threestrikes http://bit.ly/23k27V (via @loveandgarbage) (via @Glinner)

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    The Great Rock’n'Roll Swindle http://ff.im/-aKpy6

  11. David Spurr

    Great piece on the wrongness of reasoning for the 3 strikes law http://bit.ly/3sktX1

  12. Hirsty

    Yikes! RT @Glinner Have a look at the system Mandelson wants to preserve #threestrikes http://bit.ly/23k27V (via @loveandgarbage)

  13. Rich Huxley

    RT @Glinner: Have a look at the system Mandelson wants to preserve #threestrikes http://bit.ly/23k27V (via @loveandgarbage) < a "must read"!

  14. Adam Carter

    RT @Glinner: Have a look at the system Mandelson wants to preserve #threestrikes http://bit.ly/23k27V

  15. Andy Boyd

    Have a look at the system Mandelson wants to preserve #threestrikes http://bit.ly/23k27V (via @loveandgarbage) (via @Glinner)

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    by @doctorow http://tinyurl.com/yk2vxnn ,by @libcon http://bit.ly/QIaP6 & Sophie Curtis http://is.gd/4Jph0 Three strikes Mandelson Fuck Off.

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    Good to see this old piece by me on how FACT operates being picked up still http://bit.ly/2OdW8l in this 'piracy' piece http://bit.ly/3NWvNc

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