Supporting Art in the Digital Age

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Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby Snardbafulator » Fri Oct 04, 2013 02:15

Figured this'd be better here than in the Cheer-Accident thread.
schlep wrote:If you believe as I do, in actively supporting bands like this, who soldier on for decades creating great music in the face of near complete indifference - this is karmically enriching and a great deal! Best thing since the Dollar Shave Club! (not a band)

Of course, you may contribute more than $2, if you so choose. :)

I dunno, schlep, I'm of several minds about this. First, there are so many artists out there who have given me so much pleasure on YouTube and other places over the years that if I gave them all $2 even one time, I wouldn't be able to eat for two months. I'm a seriously broke puppy. But do I feel guilty about it? Hell, yes. I'll let you in on a nasty little secret: all of my music collection save for Esra Dalfidan has been downloaded (only because she wasn't available on the net), and sometimes multiple times to get good copies. The $10 or $15 it runs to buy an album's worth of mp3's off Amazon is, as embarrassing as it is to admit it, a hardship.

Edit: The last CD I ever bought was Leader of the Starry Skies specifically to support Tim.

I know I should hate myself for this. I don't, though, and here's why (guilt is not self-hatred):

The music industry has irrevocably changed with no possible way to go back. The majors are no longer in control of new music and there are no local radio stations who cater to large audiences that might plug emerging bands (broadcast radio has become totally micro-market-niched with no interest in newness; serious radio listeners use satellite radio or podcasts). The only way anymore to make money as an emerging band is to tour relentlessly, and that's very difficult for those who don't appeal to the increasingly narrow spectrum of what's left that's promotable through corporate subsidy on any sort of national or even regional scale. Festivals seem to be the last remaining networking / merch venues for new music bands, but you can't depend on enough new festies to consistently make the rent every month. So to lament over the tragedy that bands like TPlague or Cheer-Ax can't "make it" through their music alone kind of misses the point. Nobody can. Everybody creative has to have a day job these days. It's not like there aren't plenty of fans -- but they're scattered across the globe. Best you can do is live somewhere like the Bay Area or Santa Barbara with a vibrant local / university art scene.

Mike Johnson of TPlague has a tenured academic gig. Hey, we should all be so lucky.

The flipside of this is actually fantastic. Relieved of the burdens of trying to make a career out of their art, the real dudes and dudesses treat it an avocation now, with none of the nasty commercial imperatives oozing their ways into the creative process. Recording technology continues to improve in quality and drop in price, so studio time is much less of an issue, especially for those who've accumulated home studios. Remember all that stuff that Greaves and Cutler talked about in the Amateur booklet distributed by ReR in the late 70s? It's come to pass. And the proof is in the listening: The current music scene, if YouTube is any guide, is incredibly vibrant, with more people making quality recordings of music in more genres and subgenres that were even imaginable two decades ago. Sure, nobody's becoming the next Keith Emerson or Robert Fripp (or even Frank Zappa) -- materially comfortable with creativity cred. And that itself is a good thing because it virtually annihilates the complacency factor.

You want celebrity, there's always The X-Factor. Somebody has to be the next Lady Gaga. But notice that even Justin Bieber rode the DIY wave by releasing carefully amateurized videos on YouTube and letting a fan base take over from there. The middleman is (almost) dead.

Of course the argument against shmucks like me who take great enjoyment from recordings without paying for them is morally unassailable. Like I said, I feel guilty and believe me, if my ship ever comes in Payback Will Occur. That said, I don't think any of the artists on my hard drive would want me to have to choose between a decent recording of theirs and a meal, either -- especially when I come on fora like this as an enthusiastic mouthpiece for their music. I'm going to purchase my new flavor-of-the-month, MoeTar (thanks, eadric!), only because the copy available is 128kps and sounds like crap, not for karmic adjustment purposes or because their fundraising video (they need four grand to record their new one) made me feel guilty. Hey, sure beats a record company advance contingent on future units moved.

Like the proverbial dog who licks his yeasty plums (thanks, Worms, for that piquant phrase), downloads happen because they can. There's no point in debating the morality of it; the DMCA puts the onus on file sharing services only to make a good-faith effort to keep copyrighted material off, so despite some dick-waggery last decade by the RIAA with "example" prosecutions of civilian uploaders (which backfired on law enforcement in a huge way), accounts may get pulled but nobody's held accountable. My personal code keeps me from uploading files to anything but YouTube (which is a different case entirely), but that's just me.

The downside: Revenue is lost to artists who fairly earned it.

The upside: Revenue is lost to artists, but revenue is never the point.

Is this all just a bald rationalization or what?

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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby schlep » Fri Oct 04, 2013 15:48

Unless you're unemployed, paying child support, with major medical problems etc. - i think you can both eat AND throw a bone to your favorite musicians every once in a while, without fear of making them 'complacent'.
I download music for free too. But if it's something I like, I do purchase it, from the artist if possible, or some honest broker (Jesus! Wayside! Indie record stores! I love and want to preserve them)...not only for the artist's sake but because I like to own a tangible thing, a physical object - I'm a fetishist I know...a habit of long standing.
The way the music business has changed does not absolve the consumer of any responsibility, in my view.
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edit - This is a funny discussion to be having, at a Cardiacs forum of all places. We wouldn't even have some of their albums to download if it wasn't for fan support.

2nd edit! - It's up to the individual anyway, obviously. If you have mighty powers of rationalization, and don't mind feeling 'guilty', don't ever buy music from hungry (or weekend 'avocation') musicians!
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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby Snardbafulator » Fri Oct 04, 2013 22:34

schlep wrote:Unless you're unemployed, paying child support, with major medical problems etc. - i think you can both eat AND throw a bone to your favorite musicians every once in a while,

It must be nice to feel you can be so judgmental, shlep, but I'd think that in writing a post so painfully honest, people would at least take me at my word about my situation. If you'd like to hear more tales of poverty, though, you're more than welcome to shoot me a PM.
without fear of making them 'complacent'.

It's not a question of what myself or any particular individual does. This post is only tangentially about my situation; I'm talking about aggregate behavior in the marketplace.

Ask yourself, shlep, was the situation any better in the late 60s, with the record industry rolling in cash and the belief that anyone could be the next Beatles (and produce a lot of millionaires in the process), when the majors were hiring teenage A&R dudes with, as Zappa sez, "the same hair," and unsigned bands were living and partying on six-month advances?

The psychedelic scene was very vibrant, to be quite sure. But did all that virtually free money floating around make it any more vibrant than what's going on now in a different economy?

I think the objective answer to that, shlep, is no.
I download music for free too.

"May those who are without sin cast the first stone."
But if it's something I like, I do purchase it, from the artist if possible, or some honest broker (Jesus! Wayside! Indie record stores! I love and want to preserve them)...

I think a lot of people who live in or near small towns have no problem paying a little more at the downtown hardware store, coffee shop and stationery store because they know and like the proprietors and these folks are part of the community. But then a Wal Mart moves onto the highway interchange and these stores all fold. I mean, you could get on a moral soapbox about the idiots who waste more gas to drive out there than they recoup in a few dollars's savings at the cash register -- and many people do (I've done it), but does that address the real issue?

As long as art in a capitalist society is treated as a commodity, people are going to go for the cheapest prices -- including free if they can get away with it. Forget economic theory, that's an iron law of human nature, and the real answer to the problem is to reboot the way we view music, seeing it as a valued part of the collective culture and not as a personal possession.

But that's -- catastrophically -- just a hippy-dippy pipe dream, I'm afraid.
not only for the artist's sake but because I like to own a tangible thing, a physical object - I'm a fetishist I know...a habit of long standing.

And I say more power to you, shlep, you and all the other "fetishists" who love buying CDs and merch and kicking in to support the bands you love. Thank goodness there were the 66 or so "angels" who kicked in as a response to MoeTar's YouTube fundraising appeal, because they made it into the studio. I think that's a great DIY model that's much better than getting label advances contingent on sales. And it breaks my f'cking heart that I can't participate in it.

Personally, though, all I care about is the music. Pictures and text I can get from the net. My CD player sucks but I have a very good sound card run through a decent stereo system. But all that comments on is my own preferences; I do not argue that others "should" be this way.
The way the music business has changed does not absolve the consumer of any responsibility, in my view.

This straw man is unnecessary because at no time did I make an "information wants to be free, man" argument. What I argued is that the "free rider" problem inherent in digital copying has eviscerated a corporate regime where consumer "responsibility" was relentlessly manipulated.

Regardless of your unfounded judgments, I am not a free rider by choice, schlep. My choice is between either having the music or not having it, and I don't think anyone outside of an RIAA official or a record company executive would argue the latter. That's part of why the "pay what you think it's worth" model arose in the first place. Free riders are simply inevitable.
If you haven't got a ha'penny, God Bless You.

:roll:
edit - This is a funny discussion to be having, at a Cardiacs forum of all places. We wouldn't even have some of their albums to download if it wasn't for fan support.

Indeed. Your point?
2nd edit! - It's up to the individual anyway, obviously. If you have mighty powers of rationalization, and don't mind feeling 'guilty', don't ever buy music from hungry (or weekend 'avocation') musicians!

What I have, schlep, is a rather painful lack of funds at the moment.

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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby schlep » Sat Oct 05, 2013 04:13

It's a tough economy, sorry about your situation. I invited folks to chip in on C-A's little scheme to share music for pennies. Thanks for reading, and caring.
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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby Snardbafulator » Sat Oct 05, 2013 07:34

schlep wrote:It's a tough economy, sorry about your situation. I invited folks to chip in on C-A's little scheme to share music for pennies. Thanks for reading, and caring.

Sorry for getting so pissy, schlep. It's admittedly difficult to try to make a broad objective argument when it's so balled up in one's personal situation, and it's easy to conflate the two.

I think that all alternative, non-corporate models for funding one's favorite artists (or art in general) should be explored, and if the C-A subscription model works for people, I say go for it.

As a model, though, I think I prefer MoeTar's successful effort to raise a particular sum of money for a defined goal -- hey, you liked our first album, help us make our next. As somebody who has, excuse the expression, "schlepped" door-to-door throughout the 80s raising money for various political causes, I can say that they followed correct fundraising procedure. They didn't beg or guilt-trip, they all sat on a couch, looked the camera straight on and explained what they needed the money for and how it would be used wisely (they also said they wouldn't personally make a dime from it). They did claim to need some super awesomesauce producer that they had to pay up front and pay for his flight out, and I would have said use somebody local, producers are a dime a dozen. But hey, they were honest and they made than their goal.

I wouldn't have a problem with a subscription for $2 or even more a month to a general fund (like the NEA) that uses objective criteria to support the arts (a $2 tax return check-off to fund the arts analogous to the $2 check-off for campaign financing would be fantastic, I think), but I think I object in principle to the idea of becoming a "patron" of any particular artist -- even my very favorites (and C-A I'm only exploring at the moment). What happens if their new album sux and then I have to feel guilty cancelling my subscription? And I wouldn't be doing it for the free downloads, but it does put pressure on them to meet a creativity schedule for the donor base, and the whole point of alternative funding is to take the pressure off artists.

Incidentally, the brainflash that produced my first post and my recent writing on the massive changes in the music industry since the prog era came from a long interview with Mike Johnson, who was asked about the hardship of having to re-convene TPlague every few years because of a lack of ongoing interest, and he was philosophical about it. Maybe you could be a full-time working avant garde rock band like Henry Cow, never making any money, but getting by -- strained relationship with Virgin or no -- touring constantly and recording regularly back in the early 70s. But by the time TPlague was formed, during Carter-era "stagflation" and the emergence of punk, those days were simply gone. TPlague never managed at any point to become a self-sustaining entity without all their members needing to have day jobs. But Mike is also fanatically anti-downloading and pro-CD, and he seems to think that downloading is being done "illegally." Hey man, I don't torrent or mask my IP and use the dark web to visit The Pirate Bay. I use depositfiles, mediafire, uploaded, 4shared and any number of perfectly legal, google-accessible file sharing services with all the computer skills of a bored 13-year-old.

That model has been duly monetized and is not going to be pulling a Napster any time soon.

Aaron Funk of Venetian Snares has an entirely different take on it. He has a problem with 320kps mp3's, but not a problem at all with downloading, which he considers to be like street corner busking. Stand around and if you like what you hear, toss a few coins in the guitar case. His issue with mp3s is that the quality sucks, especially for the chaotic, dense-waveform music that he does, so he hawks the lossless files that his label sells. Contra Mike, he also claims that standard-format CDs suck almost as much as mp3's for essentially the same reasons. Aaron is also fortunate enough to make a living at his gig (that rarest of birds in today's non-commercial music). As a have-laptop-will-travel breakcore artist, he tours clubs, which is as cost-effective as it gets, and the live audiences who pay his bills are clubbers and sceners who are more into being sonically abused than they are a crew of rabid Venetian Snares fans.

So the fundamental issue here, schlep, is that the CD era is as over as the vinyl era was 20 years ago. Yes, as collector's fetish objects CDs won't go away anymore than vinyl has become totally extinct (and will be more prevalent, of course, since they don't wear out), but the era of promoting your band or music through CD releases has been coming to an end for a while now, and the audiophile argument clinches it: if a good sound card through a good stereo makes a flac outperform a CD even marginally, then the CD's raison d'etre essentially vanishes.

This is a sad moment and we should all take our hats off and bow in respect. The Cryptic Corporation stopped putting out mail-order Residents CDs with artwork -- so important to that fan base -- because it's just not cost-effective, and they, of course, cited the internet. There's a place for mourning -- but a bigger one for organizing. Sorry to give you the impression that I rejected the C-A model out of hand. As I say, if it works for some, let's get on with it.

Cheers,

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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby ryan » Mon Oct 07, 2013 14:56

i've not really read all of this.

but.

the idea that artists can only make money playing live isn't really true. there's no rule about that, it varies greatly across genre and artist size.
the band i work with is helped MASSIVELY when people buy the music.

if you don't make enough money, and have to have a shitty job, creative output (can be) severely affected.

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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby Snardbafulator » Mon Oct 07, 2013 16:49

ryan wrote:the idea that artists can only make money playing live isn't really true. there's no rule about that, it varies greatly across genre and artist size.

If you had read this exchange, and by your own admission you didn't (and I appreciate your honesty), you would have seen that schlep was talking about Cheer-Accident, and the examples I used were Thinking Plague and Venetian Snares. Whatever these three groups share in common, being a popular style of music isn't one of them. As I made clear, Aaron Funk can make a living, but that's because he's an electronic musician who tours clubs that feature techno, and breakcore is a mutant, avant-garde species of techno. He's also a solo act who needs to do nothing more than bring his tracker software to the club and plug it into the PA.

I don't know about Tatsuya Yoshida, but he's involved with an enormous number of Japanese musicians (all of them avant-garde) and regularly puts out a lot of material and tours, so I would guess that he's eking out a living, possibly with help from national arts grants. Touring internationally with Ruins Alone, which only requires software, a PA and his drum kit, is probably his most well-paying gig. But from reading interviews and their material, none of the current bands that I'm listening to, including Fidan, MoeTar, Miriodor, Univers Zero, Yugen, Panzerballett, who aren't legacy acts like Magma and Allan Holdsworth with long established reputations from the 70s, can make a living exclusively on their own music. They're session musicians, they teach, they have day jobs, they rely on arts grants (which they duly credit).
the band i work with is helped MASSIVELY when people buy the music.

And, knowing nothing whatsoever about the band you work with, I would bet a minor body part that they sell most of their material at the merch table at shows. Am I wrong?
if you don't make enough money, and have to have a shitty job, creative output (can be) severely affected.

If you don't make enough money, and have to have a shitty job, your life can be severely affected whether you play music or not. My point was never to dispute an obvious truism like this, but to contrast the current situation with the way it was 20-30 years ago when you as an artist signed with a major label and they paid your bills but essentially owned you and required your music to be commercial enough to pay them back. Read the article that Sterbus and I are discussing in the other thread and get Tim's perspective on being broke but DIY.

The larger point here is that CD sales have been declining steadily in all forms of music for the past 15 years (since the advent of music on computer files) and no amount of promotion by even the most popular acts is going to reverse this trend. Artists must learn how to adapt.

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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby eadric » Mon Oct 07, 2013 17:36

I'm not sure if the middleman is dead or merely snoozing. There's definitely a fascinating shift going on : physical media is dying, radio is severely wounded. It's far easier to get your music out there than it was.

Of course, the downside to that is that there's a lot more music, and somehow that needs to get curated, and the obvious thing is for some, ahem, 'gentle nudging/astroturfing' from the big middlemen while pretending it's all organic. I feel like the middlemen are just being replaced by a more reactive, agile set of middlemen - it'll be leading youtubers instead of EMI. We need the middleman more than ever, because there's more content for them to sift through.

Would I pay $2 a month for a person (algorithm?) that really knew my music taste and found me new things regularly? Sure! I'm hoping Google or somebody brings me this before I die :D

There's no doubt the 'value' of music is being driven down, but to me that was a rather artificial scarcity in the first place. The most valuable musical idea is the one in your head. The more you spread it, the less it's worth - that's just the price you pay for spreading ideas. You can make money, but you have to accept giving away your babies. You can't have it both ways.

I'm mostly in the Snard camp. I buy when possible, contribute what I can. I try and spread the things I like, where possible. The majority of what I have is legit, but I use subscription services so much now.

I realise some people around here have very conscientiously bought everything Cardiacs, but if we struck off absolutely everyone with any dodgy material I think this forum would probably be empty (and nobody would be talking about them at all).

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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby ryan » Mon Oct 07, 2013 22:09

I didn't mention anything about artists being pop(ular) music or not...?
I'm not saying that you can't make money playing live either, of course.

There just seem to be a ton of assumptions that I don't necessarily see eye to eye with.

On the merch table thing, I don't have any figures in front of me but I would suspect that you're probably wrong yes.

I've read the Tim article previously. His views are fair enough, my respect for Cardiacs is largely down to steadfast determination to doing their own thing. It's beautiful.
It isn't the case that singing to a label, major or otherwise, requires a dilution of anything though. It can, but it isn't a given.

I didn't really intend to get involved, and still don't, I don't agree really but I've no huge interest in changing anyone's opinions.p, as much as exploring my own, but I don't think this is the place.

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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby Snardbafulator » Tue Oct 08, 2013 00:09

eadric wrote:I'm not sure if the middleman is dead or merely snoozing.

Heh. Being a middleman is one of those nasty aspects of human nature -- like downloading music for free if you can get away with it without arrests or lawsuits -- that isn't going away any time soon. There's a need for good-faith middlemen, of course; artists often need people to manage their affairs so they can spend more time on their art. But there will always be the sleazebags whose moneymaking career it is to siphon off somebody else's creative juices.
There's definitely a fascinating shift going on : physical media is dying, radio is severely wounded. It's far easier to get your music out there than it was.

This is exactly what I've been trying to start a discussion about, eadric, because it's so fascinatingly bipolar. On the one hand ... jesus ... my music is on YouTube. WTF? On the other hand, there probably has never been a more dire era to try to start a career in making original music outside of the few narrow areas that captivate ever-more-narrowly-market-niched demographic groups. "Youth music," whether vicariously thrilling hip-hop, insipid girlie tween pop or He-Man boy metal, will always be a reliable target audience because Da Yoot and their enabling parents are impulse buyers with conservative tastes. But outside of that very narrow range, it's an uncertain free-for-all. And yet ... there's more truly original music out there, in all variety of styles including vast amounts of avant-garde, with quality production values, than there ever has been before, including in the halcyon 70s era of progressive music.
Of course, the downside to that is that there's a lot more music, and somehow that needs to get curated, and the obvious thing is for some, ahem, 'gentle nudging/astroturfing' from the big middlemen while pretending it's all organic.

It's both instructive and amusing to reflect on the historical context, at least in America. At the dawn of the 80s, MTV was a niche cable channel with a tiny audience that played about a dozen videos over and over again which established acts had payed through the nose to produce. Then some marketing genius at the majors decided to include video production costs in new band contracts and MTV exploded onto the national stage, which eviscerated local radio as a source of new band promotion (and all of the thousands of chances new bands had from the different tastes of individual program directors) because the target audience was taking its cues now from national MTV and not local radio. Of course, this meant that above anything else, you had to look good and have good moves, and thus arose hair metal, gothy New Romantic new wave and choreographed Michael Jackson / Madonna mini-spectaculars.

The makeup first started to run with the Milli Vanilli lip synching scandal and the realization that Madonna was using AutoTune before AutoTune was invented, and a backlash against "corporate rock" spilled from indie 'zines into the mainstream. When the 90s hit, there was a desperate scramble by the majors to find an authentic local scene outside of the sterile soundstages of MTV, somebody mentioned "Seattle" and all of a sudden garage rock was re-discovered once again (sound familiar, my British brethren?) in the form of grunge.

But a funny thing happened along the cultural arc between The Sex Pistols and Nirvana. When Kurt Cobain and the boys went multi-platinum, the majors did the predictable thing and tried to sign up any disheveled person in an under-laundered plaid shirt who had been within ten feet of an electric guitar, and an enormous, vocal backlash arose out of a growing underground network of self-published 'zines, BBSs and college campus USENET newsgroups. Unlike the first crop of punx who were so easily Malcolm McLarenized, these MTV-disillusioned kids were having none of it, so another corporate marketing genius (probably hired by the one who enabled MTV) suggested creating a whole new corporate non-genre genre christened, without irony, Alternative Rock, to cater to these unwashed, unreconstructed grungeophiles.

Sure, many kids bought into this. But many others did not, and howled in bitter laughter at the irony of the very same corporate suits trying to sell this stuff who were also selling "regular rock." This helped create the peculiar double-edged irony of the 90s, where cynicism was automatically assumed, yet everybody was also on guard against who was "selling out," which is probably the single biggest 90s music-culture meme. And I'd argue that it is this very atmosphere of "ironic sincerity" which helped the rise of highly un-commercial, borderline experimental acts like Primus, Mr. Bungle, Tool, Meshuggah and others begin the prog revival.
I feel like the middlemen are just being replaced by a more reactive, agile set of middlemen - it'll be leading youtubers instead of EMI. We need the middleman more than ever, because there's more content for them to sift through.

You're no doubt onto something, eadric, but I think I'm oblivious to it. As someone quite aware of Google's not-so-hidden crypto-fascist global agenda, I avoid using all social features on my YouTube channel. I haven't "fixed it up," I don't blast texts to my subscribers, I don't correspond with anybody or even read stuff people write to me (if they do), I close all the pop-ups to try to make me get a "better name!" than Snardbafulator. I just use it to upload videos, period.

People being social creatures are going to take their cues from their peers, and I suppose there's a majoritarian tyranny (a phrase very resonant to Americans) now of YouTube and Facebook upvotes, but frankly as long as it's not some idiot in the pages of NME or Creem or Melody Maker or Rolling Stone anymore, I'm okay with it. It's on a more equal footing now.

It's working for me remarkably. I came back to the Nest to discover new bands (thanks again for MoeTar, bro), but some I'll discover on YouTube just by chance like Miriodor. Or by reading about women in jazz on Wikipedia I'll find Esra Dalfidan. Yes, there's an embarrassment of riches that nobody will get through in a single lifetime, but I don't feel any censorship, either.
Would I pay $2 a month for a person (algorithm?) that really knew my music taste and found me new things regularly? Sure! I'm hoping Google or somebody brings me this before I die :D

::lol: ::lol: ::lol: Oh indeed. One time I went on a Barbara Dennerlein rampage all night because she's this hot German babe who plays Hammond B3 with probably the best bass pedal technique on the planet, and every single fooking time now I get Joey DeFrancesco "Recommended For You." It's like ... hey YouTube, I'm a proghead. Sure, I love the Hammond organ, but I'm not an instrument fetishist, and I'm not particularly into blues or gospel. Cripes, it's exactly like voice recognition software. It'll never become context-sensitive enough to pass a Turing test.

That was an awesome wisecrack, but I'm sure you also know that I wasn't precisely suggesting something like that, more a way to instill a broad social responsibility in supporting the arts generally, and not just plumping for my personal favorite music bands of the moment. I'm thinking more along the lines of a national fund to support childhood music education (which I think is not an option) and block grants to artists -- awarded by a competent panel of human judges, of course, the way they do it in other countries where music is as much a matter of national pride as it is a commodity that rises and falls in the "marketplace of ideas."
There's no doubt the 'value' of music is being driven down, but to me that was a rather artificial scarcity in the first place. The most valuable musical idea is the one in your head. The more you spread it, the less it's worth - that's just the price you pay for spreading ideas. You can make money, but you have to accept giving away your babies. You can't have it both ways.

I'm very sympathetic to this argument, eadric, but I also tried strenuously to avoid making it, because it's the "information wants to be free" argument. Not that I'm particularly attached to the notion of intellectual property rights per se, but I see the problem as deeper because it still operates within the commodity paradigm. The problem specifically with music in a "marketplace of ideas" is that the only thing which defines value is demand. So you're stuck putting a cookie-cutter price on everything, whether it's a hip-hop production team that uses samples and a library of beats to kick out a record every few months or some tortured singer/songwriter or composer who spent 5 years sweating bullets over 50 minutes of music.

I have no idea what the answer is and I couldn't even begin to suggest alternatives, but I think as a culture we need to find some new way to value music that transcends the marketplace.
I'm mostly in the Snard camp.

You poor, deluded soul ::cry:
I buy when possible, contribute what I can. I try and spread the things I like, where possible. The majority of what I have is legit, but I use subscription services so much now.

And I'm stuck with having fantasies like the one where I write Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (if they still were around) a long, paper letter in which I not only praise their music, but also take apart their silly anarchist politics. Which would also enclose a $100 check in thanks ::(

At least I'm trying pretty strenuously to advocate the music I'm downloading -- not just saying "hey man, I really like this" but giving a detailed description of why I think it's good. Perhaps that's at least some doubtless pathetically small act of payback for being a free rider.
I realise some people around here have very conscientiously bought everything Cardiacs, but if we struck off absolutely everyone with any dodgy material I think this forum would probably be empty (and nobody would be talking about them at all).

Tim himself having spent his share of time being skint I honestly think would understand.

As for the forum being nearly empty, well, it's kind of become something like a religion in the perilous times just after its founding, hasn't it. We all believe in One Tim and study the Holy Texts to see if Punks and Progheads alike should be circumcised (to avoid Wankery), or whether it suffices to be Circumcised in the Heart. Some of us are Anabaptist True Believers, who believe in One Tim, maker of Heaven Born and Ever Bright, who do not take Tim's name in vain, and who yearn to re-establish a Pre-Apostolic Age, where Tim lived among his disciples.

Others of us are schismatics and gnostics who believe in an Inner Tim, and view our mission to discover shards of the True Tim embedded within and across the Great Musical Creation ...

Bob
Deconstructing conventional wisdom since the birth of punk

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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby Snardbafulator » Tue Oct 08, 2013 07:11

ryan wrote:I didn't mention anything about artists being pop(ular) music or not...?

You said "it varies greatly across genre and artist size." You also said that you didn't bother to read the discussion (always a winning strategy when you aim to dispute somebody :razz: ). So I merely cleared up the particular genre that shlep and I happened to be talking about.
I'm not saying that you can't make money playing live either, of course.

My initial point is that these days touring has become essential to making money with your music because CD sales across all genres have tanked in the last 15 years. And this didn't used to be the case. Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band is not musically comparable to Cardiacs, but they had a similar critical reception in the late 60 / early 70s: One or two critics hailed them as geniuses and most other people (including many people into strange music) thought they were a godawful racket. And they toured ... but they didn't need to. They were on a major label (Warner / Reprise), and even their tiny cult following was enough to sustain them through record sales alone: Albums like Trout Mask Replica and Lick My Decals Off, Baby that people bought to be hip and have in their record collections, but didn't much listen to.

Today, you can't be a band of five or six people with a tiny cult following like that and expect to eke out a living if you don't tour, period. If you know some who can, let's hear them.
There just seem to be a ton of assumptions that I don't necessarily see eye to eye with.

That's cool, dude. You're entitled to your opinion and you're certainly entitled to disagree. But don't expect your views to be taken seriously if you seem to feel it's somehow beneath you to try to offer up either an argument or a set of examples to illustrate your perspective here.
On the merch table thing, I don't have any figures in front of me but I would suspect that you're probably wrong yes.

I'm wrong? Awesome. I love being wrong. It's the only way you learn anything. So this band of yours ... how do they distribute their music, then? Are they on iTunes / Amazon? In the shops? Do they do in-house mail-order to a fan list? I don't know of any bands who aren't on major labels with, more importantly, good distribution contracts, who don't rely on merch tables.

But maybe I'm, you know, wrong about this. Prove me so :mrgreen:
I've read the Tim article previously. His views are fair enough, my respect for Cardiacs is largely down to steadfast determination to doing their own thing. It's beautiful.

Okay then, if you had read the article, you would have seen how important ABC was to Tim's steadfast determination. Because I'll make a bold assertion: There isn't a single person on this forum -- not one -- who'd argue that if Cardiacs were on EMI it would have made no difference.
It isn't the case that singing to a label, major or otherwise, requires a dilution of anything though. It can, but it isn't a given.

Today, being signed on a label means something entirely different than it used to mean, and part of why I started this discussion is to talk about the implications. For example, MoeTar signed onto a flagship progrock label, Magna Carta, and they still had to make a fundraising video to scrounge up four grand to make it into the studio. Even 20 years ago, the label would have picked up that tab and wrote the reimbursement into their contract. Because, prior to music files, whether "illegally" downloaded or bought from huge companies that take a cut like Apple and Amazon, that was based on an entirely different expectation about future CD sales.

MoeTar loves their label because it lets them do what they want, but the flipside is that they can't depend on them for any kind of up-front financial support which used to be a given.

Part of our disagreement, ryan, I think is generational. I'm around Tim's age, and I lived through the late 70s. I saw all the bands I admired as a teenager who were on major labels -- literally every single one -- ELP, Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, Kansas, Renaissance, Starcastle, the list actually goes on -- turn into utter shite in the space of three years. Why? Because in America, the economy went into the toilet. The prime interest rate was 21%, so record labels could no longer float bands (which amounts to making loans at what became prohibitive interest) with a less than enormous following in the noble hope / benign delusion that they might get more popular, the way they used to. So the labels read their prog roster the riot act, move so many units by next year or else, and these bands responded by trying -- desperately and mostly (save for Genesis and Yes) without effect -- to become more popular (some think that King Crimson escaped this fate, retaining their following while remaining innovative, but I personally consider 80s Crimson to be deeply compromised and nothing like their 70s output).

This did not happen all at once because my tastes began to move on by that time, which they did, or that public taste began fancying punk and disco, which it did. That all these bands started immediately sucking sewage cannot possibly be a coincidence. And if you read interviews with Bill Bruford, Dave (National Health) Stewart and Frank Zappa at the time, you'll notice that they were all saying virtually the same thing, which amounted to the first concerted indictment of the major labels by highly respected, established musicians. Of course, moments later vinyl pressing technology became cheap and the DIY movement emerged with local hardcore and indie labels and the majors have never been the same since.
I didn't really intend to get involved, and still don't.

There's a really effective way you do that, ryan. It's called don't respond. Woah :8:
I don't agree really but I've no huge interest in changing anyone's opinions.p,

I'm not really writing this based on pure opinion, though. I'm writing it based on my values and supporting it with a fact set that either is or isn't objectively true. Maybe this data, if true, is biased by my perspective, but that's true of every word that has ever been written.
as much as exploring my own, but I don't think this is the place.

You're certainly more than entitled to your opinion.

Cheers,

Bob
Deconstructing conventional wisdom since the birth of punk

psparky27

Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby psparky27 » Tue Oct 08, 2013 14:51

Your avatar does look like a troll Snard...just saying !

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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby eadric » Tue Oct 08, 2013 16:35

(I realise there's like 5 of us who are really into this stuff, and the rest of the forum is thinking 'jesus won't those damn pseuds shut up'. So sorry for any 'offence' caused)

Snardbafulator wrote:Heh. Being a middleman is one of those nasty aspects of human nature -- like downloading music for free if you can get away with it without arrests or lawsuits -- that isn't going away any time soon. There's a need for good-faith middlemen, of course; artists often need people to manage their affairs so they can spend more time on their art. But there will always be the sleazebags whose moneymaking career it is to siphon off somebody else's creative juices.

I think I'd argue the middleman generally has some value, but I'd be going waaay off topic there.

And yet ... there's more truly original music out there, in all variety of styles including vast amounts of avant-garde, with quality production values, than there ever has been before, including in the halcyon 70s era of progressive music.

Absolutely - I think those are two sides of the same coin. Lower the transaction costs, variety follows. Mind, I don't know if there's more original music being produced, or if it's just easier to get hold of it the huge back catalogue.

People being social creatures are going to take their cues from their peers, and I suppose there's a majoritarian tyranny (a phrase very resonant to Americans) now of YouTube and Facebook upvotes, but frankly as long as it's not some idiot in the pages of NME or Creem or Melody Maker or Rolling Stone anymore, I'm okay with it. It's on a more equal footing now.

Agreed. I think it's a force for good. Your latter point, I think, is the key - so far, Fidan's videos might not have any views, but it's still able to reach a far wider audience than on some back woods radio station. Success is still going to be the choice of some idiot, but at least I can choose my preferred idiot.

I'm thinking more along the lines of a national fund to support childhood music education (which I think is not an option) and block grants to artists -- awarded by a competent panel of human judges, of course, the way they do it in other countries where music is as much a matter of national pride as it is a commodity that rises and falls in the "marketplace of ideas."

It's an interesting idea ; I can't think of a way of doing it that isn't very likely to go horribly wrong, but perhaps this is my cognitive bias talking. I don't know how these musical philosopher kings would choose what to 'support' - after all, you give people enough musical education and they start going all atonal and then it's 'why are we funding these people to give us what we don't want to hear'.

The problem specifically with music in a "marketplace of ideas" is that the only thing which defines value is demand. So you're stuck putting a cookie-cutter price on everything, whether it's a hip-hop production team that uses samples and a library of beats to kick out a record every few months or some tortured singer/songwriter or composer who spent 5 years sweating bullets over 50 minutes of music.

That's true, but I don't know how else to define 'quality' in a way that isn't a path to tyranny.

At least I'm trying pretty strenuously to advocate the music I'm downloading -- not just saying "hey man, I really like this" but giving a detailed description of why I think it's good. Perhaps that's at least some doubtless pathetically small act of payback for being a free rider.

See, with the massive, looming signal-to-noise problem that Youtube has given us, I think some bands might well accept some sincere, well placed evangelism in place of cold hard cash. I realise they'd probably rather have both. These kind of deals are done all the time.

As for the forum being nearly empty, well, it's kind of become something like a religion in the perilous times just after its founding, hasn't it. We all believe in One Tim and study the Holy Texts to see if Punks and Progheads alike should be circumcised (to avoid Wankery), or whether it suffices to be Circumcised in the Heart

I never thought I'd see anabaptism mentioned here!

To continue/ruin the analogy, I'm happy for people to believe in whatever kind of personal Tim works for them. I personally don't care about bootlegs & the dvds and influences. The people who like to collect, sure, more power to them. It's all tunes, innit.

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Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby Snardbafulator » Tue Oct 08, 2013 20:41

psparky27 wrote:Your avatar does look like a troll Snard...just saying !

I guess a stage invader would have to be a troll shot up with biker crank ::twisted:

Seriously though, Cardiacs were the ultimate musical trolls and there is nothing so trollish as being a Cardiacs fan, somebody who blurts into the middle of some poor soul's well-ordered musical universe and goes "Hey man ... you've got to check out this! It's incredible!"

And when they start looking at you like "Dude ... what rock did you just crawl out from under? This is pure shite" and start shuddering and backing away, instead of meekly apologizing and allowing them to go about their well-ordered day, you persist at badgering them: "No wait ... really, they're great! Let me play something else for you!" And this continues on until:

1) A drunken brawl ensues

2) They ban you from their homes and/or from ever touching their stereo again

3) The friendship / romantic relationship is permanently destroyed

And yet somehow you continue to persist in doing this with other people, leaving a trail of confusion and misery in your wake until you crawl back under your bridge and share your war stories of the civilian world with the rest of your wizened, misshapen, malodorous lot.

PS: I got my avatar here.

Cheers,

Bob
Deconstructing conventional wisdom since the birth of punk

psparky27

Re: Supporting Art in the Digital Age

Postby psparky27 » Wed Oct 09, 2013 01:21

Snardbafulator wrote:
psparky27 wrote:Your avatar does look like a troll Snard...just saying !

I guess a stage invader would have to be a troll shot up with biker crank ::twisted:


No its its literally correct and refers to the Gig at Clapham in 1992 . Was that really 20 years ago :(