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Friday, July 25, 2008

I WANT TO BE A MACHINE/NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH

Doppelganger: Blogariddims #46...

Go, go, go! It's good! Really good.

He vants to be a machine, see?

My own mix - based around a theme of, er, Ontological Hysteria - should be up in 2 or 3 weeks.

Friends and regular readers will be aware that for some time I have displayed a certain antipathy towards mp3s, downloading, etc. It's something that I never used to do on this site until recently - I was uncomfortable with the idea of giving away other people's stuff, unless it was my own tunes or mates who had ok'd it. When I did the FACT podcast I contacted the artists and labels, wherever possible, and asked permission to use their tracks. Plus, the producer edited my own original mix, cutting back some of the tunes to almost 'showcase' versions...

(BTW: all of this is in no way a criticism of any of my more mp3-friendly pals and fellow bloggers, many of whom have worked tirelessly and for zero-cash to promote artists, labels, scenes...it's just a personal thing; a cross I've made for my own back).

I don't like mp3, full stop. I don't much like the sound of them. And I don't like the idea of music being reduced to mere data. I'm trapped in the era of the physical project-object and I'm happy to remain there, wherever it is. Mp3s have their place in the scheme of things, I think, as a form of transportation, a deliverable... they're great for that or for squeezing tinny little tunes onto phones, etc. But they're not my listening medium of choice.

I don't like the concept of "Free" either. I think it devalues music, art, whatever. It makes everything somehow culturally/artistically equivalent. Everything's free and on-line - so everything becomes equally weighted, generic...no committment or effort is being made on the part of the audience; everything is one click away. I have issues with Net-Labels too, to be honest...but again, there's nothing wrong (for the most part) with the folks involved or their good intentions, etc - it's just me: I'm a prickly cuss and it doesn't fit with how I view the world. I'm involved with Classwar Karaoke because I respect Anthony Murmurist...any other net.label/'free' project I would have to consider on an individual basis...

All of which makes me a hypocrite for doing a Blogariddims mix.

(Well, I've got a lot of time and respect for both the folks who have set up the Blogariddims infra-structure and for the bloggers who have been doing the mixes. Blogariddims, it strikes me, is another project that is as much about creating a sense of community, as it is about the writing and the mixes. For that alone, it gets my support. Despite what the BPI say: it's bloggers and on-line pundits who've been getting obscure artist's back-catalogues moving again and generating fresh revenue for the artists and the labels. Just thru their sheer enthusiasm for forgotten old acts. Fuck, would Os Mutantes have reformed and got one last pension pay-check, if not for a bunch of dedicated enthusiasts constantly bigging them up and introducing them to another new generations? Oh, and here's a tip: expect the Phew back-catalogue to suddenly lurch into life in the next few months or so, despite writers in the ink-world studiously ignoring her for years... **)

Well, anyway, lately, I've softened my stance slightly (gosh, really? How terribly interesting, Kek...) That's why there's been a few mixes appearing on this blog (tho not by myself). I've been having an internal debate about all of this for some time now, as various friends will confirm...but, for me, a crucial tipping-point was reached earlier this week. The Music Industry to 'tax' its audience? I thought taxes were the province of governments and royalty. The beeb is a public corporation, surely? (Tho sometimes you wouldn't think so.)

"With artists responsible for the most popular songs receiving a bigger slice of the cash." LOL! And the corpserations recieving the biggest wedge, natch. All that legal lunch-work: phew! And all that browsing (or adding already-signed acts to) MySpace: gosh, I'm feeling peckish! And all that setting up of freebie volunteer street-teams to drum up enthusiasm for yet another bunch of ex-catalogue model Indie Cure rip-offs: all this hard work is making me feel mighty thirsty!

Still, the arrogance of it: lobbying for a levy because they can't manage their own businesses? Would this happen anywhere else outside of the creative/media zone? Of course, artists are 'special' people (so special, in fact, that their own labels and managers think nothing of ripping them off with lousy deals, then badly promoting, presenting and distibuting their work, etc...and then charge us, the potential punters, because we didn't buy it) - so, naturally, 'intellectual' copyrights in the creative arena have to have their losses clawed back in a totally different, more 'creative' way. Their businesses are failing and it's all our fault. Shame on you. Shame on me.

Peter Jenner has been making noises about all this for a while now. Fucking shame on him.

As a manager, he thinks it's a great idea. But then he would, wouldn't he? Interestingly, he helped stage the free Stones gig in Hyde Park in 1969. It's becoming apparent that 'Free' means something else now completely. In fact, 'Free' is a misnomer; it should be called 'have as much as you like providing you pay via a monthly standing-order. ps: we also take Paypal.' It's the perfect revenue pipe-line; the music corporations don't have to release anything ever again, and they're still guaranteed an income of (n x £30) per year (which will become half-yearly, then quarterly, then a monthly music-subscription: just you watch) where n = the number of internet users.

Nice work if you can get it. "Money for nuthin' and yer chicks for free."

I wonder which restaurant(s) the lobbyists/record-biz representatives took the assorted junior culture-ministers/secreteries to in order to soften them up? I wonder whose Mercedes the designated driver took? What vintage wine they drunk while they toasted each other and congratulated themselves on taking a bold step against music piracy?

Remember, kids: "Piracy funds Terrorism."

Feed the Fear Memeplex. Nervous citizens are good consumers.

(** Perhaps we should be retro-charging the BPI for all our unpaid hours as quasi-A&R men, talent-spotters and trend-mongers, back-catalogue-reactivators, etc...at freelance rates that would mount up to a few quid. See, whenever we're doing this, we're not earning money...we do it for the fun, the craic; because we love it. Perhaps we should get a percentage of this music license-fee. ("Music license-fee": even the sound of those words makes me want to spit bile.) They're the leeches, the fucking parasites, not us.)

I *hardly ever* download anything (hardly ever - lol) - I pay for vinyl, cassettes, etc - but it appears I will now also be paying for the rampant 'piracy' that's killing the mainstream music biz. Yo-ho-ho. I'll tell you what's killing the music biz: a fucking lack of interesting new talent. Shitty artist rosters. Cowardice and failure to take risks, etc. Greedy managers and agents. Their staffing overheads are the lowest they've been since 1910, yet they can't make enough money? The problem is that they're run by people my age who haven't got a fucking clue, who learned nothing from Punk, Acid House, etc. As long as they've got a decent company car, a booze-tab and a freebie to Prince at the O2 Arena everything's copacetic 'til the quarterly figures come in. The music biz's approach falls between two different business models. Panic-striken execs yelling "Oh shit - which way do we go! I don't understand this - it's too difficult!" They've got digital deliverables and access to the most widespread comms-system the world has ever seen and they still can't make money? For fuck's sake.

It's pitiful.

So now the broadband punter is expected to shore up their margins.

The word 'piracy' gets rolled out again, just like it did for cassettes a few years ago.

Simon Cowell is worth £150 million. How can the fucking music biz not be making money? Oh, he's got it all, has he?

Fuck 'em, I say, if they're gonna retro-charge us for the bilge they've been spewing out for years.

I might as well put corporate-sponsored/released music on any mixes I make from now on, as I'm going to be charged for it anyway. But I will not be writing about or helping promote any new product released by a major; I will not be a PR puppet for these fucking greedheads.

I will continue doing what I've always done: I will write about and support interesting, truly independent artists and labels to the best of my ability. I will continue asking their permission if I use their material, and when I do, then I will link to their sites and tell my friends about them. I will support 'real' record-shops and retail services that sell a physical product, not compressed 18th-gen data. I will buy direct off the artist or micro-label whenever possible.

The rest can fuck off.

For me, then, it's business as usual.

CLAP BELTS

I want one of those steel GONORRHEA belt-buckles they're wearing in the sexual-health adverts currently showing on Brit.TV. They so fucking rule.

It's this summer's must-have fashion accessory.