Responses to diVinci on a Neck Tie
I've written hundred of articles but this one seems to really gotten some long time readers to respond en mass.
Below are some of the more interesting rebuttals. I omitted all the "my hand is raised," stuff, because there were literality hundreds with similar responses.
Below are the dissenting ones or ones that added some interesting angle to the subject.
Before we launch in to this, here is some important news.
About 2000 of you on this list of over 13,000 are in Europe.
I will be a Key Note Speaker at the SPOT Music Festival in Denmark in early June. It would be great to catch up with any of you there.
And now, in no particular order: your thoughts on this important issue.
This is a stirring article -- particularly to a 20-year veteran of the indie music world.
If I'm being honest, though, I would have to say that your observation -- while sure to receive a world of head nods from its share of the old school -- falls a bit short of the point.
In my mind, we have a single actual issue. What is intellectual property and how do we ACTUALLY protect it? Sticking with your pot analogy, how would a drug-dealer's numbers be affected if we could simply get our bud for free (grown from seeds taken from that very dealer's plants)? How about for free and without leaving the comfort of our chair? To avoid a business dirt-nap he would need to find a way to:
Having once sold millions of records with Ratt, I'm now one of the many solo artists (having been in a major band) that sees the difference it makes when your music is stolen. The difference is huge. I'm with you 100%. I have a new band with Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot) and make my records out of my studio.
Yes, what's happened is tragic. Consumers really have no idea what they're doing to their favorite artists (by stealing their music). If they really knew, and had a modicum of decency, they would buy the music they enjoy. It just goes to show you what "your fans" will do to you, given the chance.
Another thoughtful and thought provoking article! Here's my input.
High-tech company employees are largely non-music people (computer science
and business majors). They don't understand how we create music at all - no
clue. They actually think that a hit record is like a lotto ticket; a guy or
gal sits in their bedroom and, after a few minutes, comes up with a hit
song, and everyone else involved goes along for an easy ride.
To them, the job of a musician, songwriter, engineer, producer (MSEP) is a
hobby where some lucky people get rich.
Then they arrogantly tell us we should listen to their opinion about how we should deal with piracy and how much we should be paid for what we do (they think they know our
budgets better than we do), etc. They call this advice by a trendy name, "progress."
Tech companies think only they have R & D (research and development) costs. They don't understand that we write hundreds of songs and produce dozens of demos before one song actually makes any money. For independent labels, this is many thousands of dollars and for major labels it is millions. Therefore, we need our new hot songs to be priced to
help pay for the songs that don't sell (R & D). When a song is newly released it should cost more to buy it; just like they do with their new devices like (dare I say it) the iPod/iPhone.
Moses, your point that the industry was once artist driven and now that is
changing is accurate. I was at a party recently where I asked a 15 year old
boy what artists he was listening to on his iPod. He said he didn't really
know who the artists were because he just buys the songs he likes.
The tech companies will continue to tell us that their players are what make
our music great. Here's hoping MSEP can all stick together to send a message
to the tech companies that without our music their players have no music or
no new music. If they don't listen to our needs, we don't give them the new
songs only the old. This is our leverage.
SG - Songwriter/Producer
As difficult as it is to see my own modest sales diminished in the
face of file sharing, I think there's something larger at work here
that no one side of the "argument" will be able to control to its
ultimate destiny. It's gonna be a rough ride, but the results could
be magical. When the first 78s were manufactured, the big bands of
the time protested, convinced that nobody would come to see them
perform live any more. They were wrong. Let's hope many of us are
Thanks for the food for thought,
producer/artist: Matt Nathanson, the Paula Kelley Orchestra, Fantastic
Black, and more...
Your commentary is right on the money! If not for a human being's penchant to engage in "hero worship" I don't know if the music industry would still exist today! Im amazed how teenage fans of an artist claim to love that artist but don't buy the artist's music! Go figure.
i raise my hand...now what?
I read your missives each week with interest, and this was one of the most interesting. Let me say that, emotionally, I am right with you. I too am a veteran of the music biz, first as an artist/songwriter and now as a record company employee. But, objectively, I have to remind myself that wallowing in my sense of loss over the old music biz is an exercise in futility. Once a technology is invented, you can't un-invent it. All you can do is harness it and use it for as much good as possible. Perhaps the music industry can rebound in the digital era. Perhaps we will find ways to monetize digital music in a fair and equitable way and perhaps things like artist Web sites will fill some of the graphics and informational void left by the absence of the 12 X 12 LP.
All the best,
A&R Editorial Manager
Concord Music Group
What's most disturbing to me is how this trend will affect the truly independent artists who pay for their own albums and tours, backed only by maxed out credit cards and merch sales. for them, digital distribution is a necessary compromise, a message in a bottle to recipients inundated with bottles, if you will. in this over-saturated climate one's almost tempted to throw their hands up and say, "why bother?" as regressive an attitude as this may seem there needs to be that class separation in order for the pop album to maintain the sense of value it once held. i'm not talking about the exclusive club of the international pop star, i'm talking about when there were "big" indie labels which posed realistic goals to the working band. you had to prove your worth then; now you just have to open an account with some digital distribution site.
Charlie-- working independent musician/songwriter in Detroit.
The question is now that media is playing on our fears over things like oil, inflation and unemployment, how do you convince people of the tangible and intrinsic value of recorded music when the cost of gas is up nearly $1/gal. from just 12mo. ago?
Just because water flows cheaply in abundance from the tap doesn't mean I want to drink it like that.
I say the digital revolution is overrated and too saturated. Smart (or fortunate) musicians are making lionshare money offline by strengthening emotional connections with fans. The people who don't appreciate this kind of interaction are just consumers so naturally they'll take the free road if given the chance. Consider it cheap advertising.
Felix A. Sanchez, 27, NYC
part ape, all business...
You are 100% correct. I would get many referrals to sing, arrange background vocals or to play my tambourine on many sessions. Because of the liner notes producers and artists would read...they would call me and I would work 3 & 4 sessions a day. Things have changed immensely.
Founder of Spruill House Music, Inc. School of Voice and Artist Development.
I don't think there's any way to beat the tech guys....we'll just have to figure out some way of getting completely around them. (they can't dance, anyways....and they suck) If not, being poor is always better for the soul anyways.
Good article, but let's get some perspective. It has only been fairly
recently that being a musician was considered anything like a
reputable profession, or one that you could make a substantial living
Many people are huge music fans - and don't kid yourself about knowing
about groups. Kids know everything about every group they love, even
when they download the music with no liner notes - now they look at
the websites which have a great deal of info.
Music will alway be considered important to the people who grow up
with it. So there will always be a certain segment that will honor
music from a particular time. Although I do wonder how fans of
gangster rap will be able to play the music of their youth for their
great-grandkids ("yes, I love that song - "bitch motherfucker punk ass
ho'. In fact, your grandmother was a ho'")
The same comments you make about the technological changes were made about that horrible new bastardization of music, jazz. It used new instruments, and even electronic amplifiers! And through it all, technology has come like a juggernaut destroying the old (no more orchestras playing live on the radio, no more pianists in the movie theater, no more bands playing at clubs because of DJs - thankfully that one is now being reversed) and
forcing in the new.
Will music become the prize at the bottom of the cereal box? Probably not. Most likely, things will continue as they have been - a few musical groups at the top of the heap, making money for their company by marketing to kids, a few more at mid-level making a decent living by playing the festival circuit and selling mainly digital stuff online and some at live shows (with autographs), and the rest scuffling along playing at buckets of blood around the world.
The major record companies have, for the most part, never been friends of the performing musician or songwriter. You, of all people, know that. For them, it's always been about the money if only because it's the only way to stay in business. There are exceptions where record
companies have allowed an artist to grow over time, but that has been a very small amount of the total.
- Russ Hitman Alexander
I always read your newsletters with great interest, as they provide me with an qualified insight opinion on a world which I know so little about.
However, for the first time since I am receiving your emails, I really
feel the need to reply to express a different point of view on a few things you said in your last newsletter.
You wrote: <<<<I for one, would like to think that the art form to which I have dedicated my life, will still have cultural significance in the next 50 years.>>>>
I am missing your point here. Leonardo Da Vinci or Caravaggio did not stop being art masters just
because someone used their work for a new series of bathroom tiles... They still are inspiring artists and us all today just like yesterday.
Though the era or rock gods may be over, I am not sure that most of the people will ever accept music as just a wallpaper.
(Berkshire, England, UK)
This is beautiful. and I am so glad that you wrote it. I'm just a youngin', and I too want the LP, the liner notes, the artistic image of an album to always be important. I fear the tech heads. when CEO's are computer science majors, there's a problem.
When MIT graduates run the world, this is what happens. and they do.
Dude - I'm sorry and shocked to have read this - I subscribed to your newsletter and "world" because I thought you were among the next generation of music peeps, choosing to evolve instead of pouting.
All I can say is you hit the nail on the head. Now we have nothing more than myspace and no means of true ascension to the heights.
After reading your article, I couldn't agree with you more. I finally have read a article that tells what is going on now. There's been other articles that are good and relate to what you're saying. The music industry has been going on for a long time now. It's just now, or within this decade that we're giving ourself in to technology. Whether with a cell phone or getting music for free on the internet. I totally agree with you since we're losing art to convenient commerce.
your newsletters get better every time.
consider this: the means by which music is made in these modern times are also partly responsible for its dilution. adding to your fine art becomes neck tie theory, remember the old color by number books we used to create with a wet q-tip? same thing happens when you open a new session in logic or any other sequencer. what kind of music do you want to make? electronic? here's 100 drum and synth sounds to go with your genre. ridiculous. everyone's hobby is being a "producer" and that may or may not make them respect the value of music. on the other hand, it does raise the bar of quality when you got a few million amatuers sounding closer to the pros everyday.
the pros and cons of technology biting us in the ass continues infinitely. ahh, the future.
keep writing. we're out there reading.
Phil Moffa VINYL LIFE
the article was great and i totally agree. i would love to have been a part of a record company. it's all about people, from the artists, to the producers, to the accountants, to the guys down in shipping. one big family. But the problem with the music industry is with the GATEKEEPERS- namely the secretaries and the A&R.
In taiwan, secretaries do what they do in the states: screen calls. but here A&R basically do what they think upper A&R wants, who do what they think management wants, who do what they think investors want. in fact investors decide the WHOLE thing. they are on the board that pushes the artist thru. there is no trust placed in A&R.
Really wonderful and soul-stirring. I was just recently talking about this issue with a friend. I am literally torn in two about it. I think ultimately, I'm optimistic that our current culture, where music is worthless no matter how good it is, will give rise to one in which substance rises to the top and finds its way to economic viability in an as-yet-unimagined financial landscape. I think the jury is out on this for a while.
Like I said, I'm divided on this issue, but I'm leaning toward anarchy, at least for a time. It's time for Armageddon in the music industry. When the dust settles, maybe those who work to monopolize the next incarnation of the industry will consider the importance and role of art (both sonic and graphic) in music as the current system becomes overwhelmed with generica. The digital age is still in its infancy; it needs time to mature. Sadly, the current trend also means the likely demise of disc replication, which I partly depend on. Hey, Who Moved My Cheese?
Jer Olsen, CEO
It is in your closing that you miss the point.
The fact that new technology and the Internet has served to commoditize all content, including music (artful or not), is to level the playing field, reset the meters, and provide for a whole new value equation that is fundamentally more substantial, immediate, and relevant to sustaining music as an art form.
How else did an artist working as a call girl manage to catch a break with the visibility of a governor's scandal and sell a staggering amount of music, not because she was a call girl, but because a whole bunch of people liked her work.
Your mourning is not for music as art, nor for the artists and their fans. Your grief is for the death of an industry that, had it not been so vested in raping and pillaging the artists and the fans, would not have committed hari kari and rendered itself obsolete. Frankly, as far as I am concerned, they got what they asked for, and that has nothing to do with people ripping
off music. It has to do with people refusing to pay those companies.
DB -- Manger and Lawyer in NYC
Great editorial piece. I think you should publish this whereever you can.
Remember, though, that Pop Music's first icons, old time writers like Stephen Foster, have not been too much trivialized like wallpaper. They do occasionally turn up in commercials for the most mundane products. Some (such as Beatles) have refused to allow their music to be profaned by such crass commercialism. It is true that the Cistine Chapel art makes a grotesque bathroom addition, but what about the fin de siecle artwork style appropriated by the San Francisco geniuses who celebrated Canned Heat, Moby Grape, the Grateful Dead, Janis and so on in those wonderful posters? Was that so awful? Art historians may say that it was, but I do not. Was it urbane or trash for neoclassical architects to purloin classicism's orders? I think it was magnificent. Will other "artists" who take snips here and there, like Too Live Crew did, be pilloried? Of course they will! Nevertheless, they are showing homage to the art they steal. Even though Da Vinci on a necktie is absurd, it still shows you love him. Would you wear a necktie of a bloody dead pheasant sprawled across the table? I would not. Hunters might. I hung a very cheap Picasso poster (Guernica) in my college-time apartment. Never thought about it being an insult to Pablo. When my guests saw it and inquired I recited the provenance of the masterpiece. They would never have heard the story without my dirty old poster being there.
It goes both ways, I suppose, however, I think it keeps the art in the fore of conversation.
Ottie C. "Bud" Akers
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