p2pnet.net Opinion:- A friend of mine seems to think my rantings are “negative”. First off, let me just say that we recently reelected George Bush, there’s no job growth or much economic growth, the chasm between rich and poor keeps widening, we are acting imperialistically and killing people, for very little reason. I think anyone who doesn’t notice, care, speak out on all this, and more, ought to, cause we are all a part of this world and it’s our responsibility to be aware of the big world out there, not hide out in some little shell hoping it gets better some day.
Having said that, while I’m obviously opinionated, and will speak out about positions, people, songs, ideas, whatever, that I don’t like (or do!), I’ve always been an optimist and an idealist and love watching the world move forward. Overall, we are growing in awareness and fulfillment, and most of the big changes I see are positive. Perhaps it sounds like I’m somehow dismayed or upset about the direction music is headed. I’m not!! I’m concerned that those in power will hold up change but I’m convinced the change will come and it’s the dream of that happening that inspires me to inform and motivate others.
First, take Hillary Rosen (please). She’s done as much as anyone to protect the rights of these big companies to this huge catalog of great music. But, there’s hope. She took a nice little walk with Larry Lessig and is coming around quite nicely to this idea of creative commons licenses. She says sees response in the music industry, that the artists are calling more of the shots as these labels merge, then lay off staff. These are exactly the changes I had hoped to see, you can’t expect things to change overnight. It’s about direction and being part of the solution… and speaking out and organizing.
The biggest part of the solution is the technology, which will make music accessible. I see huge upside for the music industry over the next 20 years. Right now the Boomers are still focused on their careers & kids but in another 10 years they’re going to want to return to the great music they left behind. It’s my hope that by then we’ll have the 50′s, maybe even 60′s in the public domain where they can play with real transitions and mashups with all their old favorites, and new, on something handheld. At the same time, we have a generation of kids who doesn’t even know what it’s like to not be in charge of their own music, no one is going offline, only on, so, there’s just no future in selling records.
The RECORD/DVD industry (not the entertainment business) is obsolete. Blockbuster is switching to an online, Netflix model and will soon be closing up real estate. Tower and Wherehouse are hanging on. Wal-mart still uses records as loss leader, holding the line at $10. only because they need the labels far less than labels need them, they could drop records anytime and not lose a cent. In ten years the idea of going to a store to buy entertainment will be laughable. We’ve subsidized enough meat and sugar to make us the fattest country in the world, are we gonna now subsidize the record industry too? Because, that’s what they’re going for with all this legislation.
So, the state of the law in ’04. Well, there should be some focus on this issue this year. The Supreme Court granted cert. to the Grokkster case. The previous decision in this case relied on the Betamax decision, saying Grokkster is not responsible for all those people downloading copyrighted music because there are many more millions who use the sites to exchange perfectly “legal” files. Fair use doctrine allows people to share copyrighted material with friends, and this was curtailed by the labels. So, big issues. Do we as a society hold those who advance technology, sort of a big industry in this world, not to mention this area, back, so that we only invent things that cannot disseminate information?! Is that in the public interest? Do we restrict individuals rights to share info because we now have the means to both restrict and share, more easily over the web?
If these various public interest orgs. can get it together, (they email each other all the time, but it’s mostly about legal issues…. we need to win in the courts AND in the court of public opinion) they should use the trial to draw attention to the various ways the labels are aggressively trying to chill the distribution of music and how much of this “property” they really own (because most people think musicians own their own music!) and how much these ownership rights are worth. It’s a good opportunity to get some of these more complicated intellectual property rights issues understood, cause that’s what needs to happen. This is not gonna happen cause Hillary has a little walk with Larry and sees the error of her ways. It’s gonna happen cause it’ll be the only way these companies have to make a buck, if they cannot sell records they will find another, more useful way to make money off music. There is plenty of opportunity to do that as there will be more and more people listening to music, following music, playing around with songs on some fun new program, making music, singing. Music makes people happy. It will be with us always. Remember Capitalists, you can still use the music to sell stuff.
But more than that, we need to claim ownership of the medium here. It’s time to colonize the moon, people. And if we don’t step up to the plate you’re gonna be stepping up to your world-wide-Wal-mart-web, the corporate control version of the web, and our one big shot at freedom will have been lost. And I’m not just talking about music.
On a local level, the most promising thing is a rumor that the ’05 VMA’s will be hosted in San Francisco. After Michael Greene had his little Napster-induced nuclear breakdown at the ’03 Grammy’s, they took it from LA to NY after 5 yrs. The music industry may again be sending a message here. The VMA’s are respected yet progressive and it’s about time the music industry steps up and takes notice of an area that has taken it on the technological chin after opening up a world of opportunity to distribute music, get creative with music, make music more interesting and revolutionize their almost dead, of it’s own fucking weight, industry. If it goes, it should bring $5M in tourism and… I will be there.
On the other hand, I get increasingly frustrated with the lack of live music. Draper’s Music, a Palo Alto landmark and the only place left for musicians to even go, is closing. I went in yesterday and got an electric guitar (more about that to come) and will go in for another amp today, but, it’s very sad. The Edge, a beautiful venue just lies there vacant. There’s more and more stuff happening on a grass roots level, more bands forming, doing more of their own producing and promoting. The local community colleges are training actors, DP’s & now music producers, with a new 30 station Pro-Tools training room. Those producers will hopefully stay local & perhaps they could focus more on promotion, especially web. In a few years we should hopefully see the fruits of all this.
The Liitle Fox Theatre in Redwood City is an up & coming venue. We need to turn some of these mid-peninsula wineries or parks into some venues like Mountain Winery & Montalvo which host some great old & new acts. Another idea is to extend some of these summer concert series into more stable year round (indoor) things. Once the venues are in place and people get used to the idea of going out in the evening & spending $20. to hear some live music & have a drink… a lot of bands will be there to perform.
Cheryl Erber – Intervision: To See Between