Amsterdam Baby! Land of the Free… Music

Has the Cult of Free Seduced the Euro-Bohemians?

Moses Avalon

I recently returned from Amsterdam, one of the only places in the western world where it’s not illegal to download music from illegal sources. Think about it, if monetizing content were human rights, Holland,–the country with legalized pot and prostitution–would be behind China and Russia.

Sure, it’s easy to let people steal when the government is subsidizing most arts, but how is your altruistic example effecting others? This was the subject of my 90 minute Keynote speech at the GRAP conference. That speech developed into a semi-blood sport with some in the audience who worship the freeium model as if it’s the salvation to their ability to have a music career. I call such people “free-tards.”

Holland’s theory for allowing the downloading of illegally published music is that the downloader might not realize that the source is illegal. So, like, if you found a perfectly good, functioning, plasma-screen TV just sitting on the street, you would have no way of knowing if it came from a robbery, so why shouldn’t you be allowed to take it.

I’ll skip the merits of this “logic” for now and focus instead on the poisonous effect that it has had on the Dutch music scene. Ignoring a basic tenet of commerce– that you cannot sell something that has no perceived value–artists have begun to adopt the strategy of giving away their music– as a starting point for their careers. So much so that charging for music is now considered rude and un-cool.

In essence, they are giving in to the Cult of Free agenda and turning their most expensive product into a loss leader. The hope is to create such a low barrier to entry that they will make lots of new fans.

Forget for a second that the most successful artists rarely give away their product–even Dutch artists—joining the cult as a societal mantra makes no sense unless you live in a socialist country so rich on oil dollars that everything feels free anyway. (And let’s not forget 60% tax brackets.)

What the free-tards are forgetting is that you cannot create perceived value if you give something away. Not in you, nor your work.

It also makes me wonder how the Dutch will feel one day when the West is no longer addicted to oil and Holland will need to export something else to maintain all their fantastic social programs, like funding the arts.

How will free sound to them then?


If you’re going to be in NYC in late June and want to here and see the facts on this, come to my TED moment, Google Bubble where I’ll reveal the schedule and reasons for the downfall of the internet juggernaut and why every person who derives a living from a creative source should abandon this company. I’ll be giving it at the New Music Seminar on Tuesday, June 19th. Schedule is here.

You will see how the rise of the freemium model is synonymous with the rise in global recession and that this is not a coincidence.

But there is a light at the end of this tunnel. In a few years Google and others will be at the short end of long play. Facebook found this out this month with their failed IPO. And this is just the beginning. Google will be feeling the pain next as its stock slips down from 600 to 60 in the next few years.

Stay tuned.

Mo out

4 responses to “Amsterdam Baby! Land of the Free… Music”

  1. It certainly defies logic. Having it illegal to download music from illegal sources has no dampening effect upon the Artist who wants to give some or all of his or her work away for free to lure fans or for any other reason. An independent Artist is always free to give away their own works if they so choose. Copyright laws were created to encourage the arts. Underlying the purpose is the ability for those who wish to do so, to be compensated for their artistic creations. Making it legal to steal from such Artists hurts the entire artistic community in the long run.

  2. Wow, it`s amazing that a country which is supposed to be soooooo progressive and cultured can be so fundamentally stupid at the same time. Giving away the store never works. [Granted, I have a track posted on Reverbnation that can be downloaded for free, but it`s just a demo.] Methinks the people of Amsterdam have been sampling [smoking] too much of their own merchandise!


  3. mattskills says:

    Freetard 🙂 thats the perfect name for music trolls 🙂
    Let me share a lil joke that fits:

    A million people walk into a bar in Silicon Valley. >No one buys anything. Everyone says it was a blasting success!!!

    We know Warhol said way back in time: “Nowadays ppl dont know about value anymore, they only know the price”. Well I guess it’s even worse now, maybe they dont even think anymore and just “use their illusion” to measure “potential” and thats it. Value is worthless, price doesnt matter at all, the only thing that matters, especially online so it seems is mostly fantasized “potential” or maybe a better word would be “chances”. Think of lottery tickets. What “value” do they have? Whats their price? Do some ppl think they get close to a 100% winning “chance” by buying 100 tickets? In the end it’s all about the numbers, litterally, isnt it?

    I think it’s gettin hot in here! Somethings gonna explode! Maybe its best to get out, watch from a far and pick up the pieces later on. Maybe thats wuzup. Maybe the rats already left the boat. Dont let em have it. Change the game.

    Word! The artists and the industry should put back value back into the music. Its all about perception so to speak. Dont pimp up the packages with all those supersized limited super editions. Raise the standards! Raise the heart of the deal!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.