The source of the disease.

Here we see punk rocker John Robb declare it necessary to reshape the Internet to save the music industry as it was in the 1980s.

This is someone who should know better. I’d thought the point was always the spread of music and culture without the gatekeepers of the labels, press and radio impeding its communication. Wish accomplished.

Note the quote “The Internet could easily stop this situation but there are darker forces at work and the value of music hits rock bottom.” The “darker forces” are the unforgiving hand of microeconomics — basic business — as marginal cost goes to zero.

I am not rightly able to apprehend the confusion of ideas that leads people to propose a Chinese-style firewall on the whole Internet just to preserve the old record industry. I want some musician holding this view to explain, in a manner that doesn’t treat computers as incomprehensible malevolent magic, how precisely “the Internet” could easily stop this situation. In detail, showing their working. What is the origin of such notions, apart from magical thinking? Give me something to work with here.

Note the upward curve of music industry (and, yes, record industry) revenue, even as someone else eats into the disposable income. The actual claim in the original post is provably false.

This question as approached by authors may be of interest. There’s been a teapot of kerfuffle lately about just how privileged a first-world problem it is to be able to complain that “oh no, people are copying my art!” Link collection; why the entire intellectual property regime is best understood as a mechanism of empire, and why its utter destruction is a moral imperative; author whines, is slapped upside the head with her own privileged cluelessness as to the world not actually revolving around her books. Physical books being obsolete as far as the actual readers go.

Meanwhile, the world continues to be as it is and not as it used to be.

We Internet types are so busy haggling over video games with DRM that we’re not grasping the scale of this. We’re like a dog who’s been cooped up behind a fence his whole life, and now a storm has knocked down the gate. The dog looks out and thinks, “Wow, out there is the front yard!”

No, Fluffy. Out there is the whole world.

5 thoughts on “The source of the disease.

  1. David, like most artists I am having to confront the reality that I’m going to have to give a chunk of my work away as a loss leader in order that it acts as an ambassador for my art and skills, i.e. to attract further commission.

    I am going to ‘open source’ the http://ContingencyMarket.com back-end and the http://1p2U.com MediaWiki extension that demonstrates it (albeit both being incomplete).

    I don’t think it is enough to berate those brainwashed by the publishing corporations. Those who understand how to exchange intellectual work for money (without the unethical artifice of an ineffective 18th century privilege) are going to have to lead the way. The doomed incumbents will not lend a hand to bang in the last nails of their own coffiin.

  2. I think John robb is right.
    His attitude is spot on and he is protecting the musicians and not the corporate companies who run the Internet. You, sir, sound like the kind of lackey who supports these big companies and their squeezing of the poor musicians. You should be ashamed of yourself.
    Its not about a Chinese style firewall to protect the music industry but its about the corporate interests of google, still if you are happy supporting the new boss remember it’s still the same as the old boss.

  3. Good stuff; thanks for the interesting links. It’s a shame that so many people (especially, to my mild surprise, old punks and previously clued-up technoheads) are willing to call in repressive forces and curtail freedom of information in order to try to remedy a incurable situation. It’s a question, as you point out, of poor Fluffy getting his head round the whole world being out there. And of finding new ways to make a living that don’t involve the selling of infinitely copiable digital files.

  4. I must point out that I’ve been a John Robb/Membranes fan since ZigZag in 1984 and “Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder” in 1985. I have a couple of decades of the highest of respect for him and read Louder Than War avidly. But I think he’s wrong on this one.

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