Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A&R Blues

Of course, you remember the good old days before recording and orchestras and sheet music was invented. What were songs for? They were for spreading the news, and for remembering old heroes and events in a way that was easily memorised and didn't get subverted too much by repetition. Performers - travelling minstrels - troubadors - made their living from performing, not from composing or recording. If someone picked up your song and used it in their own set then so much the better.

Listening to all the bleating and moaning from the music industry nowadays about the availability of online recordings and free "pirate" downloads, I reckon we're coming full circle. The days are coming back when musicians will make their living by performing. Why don't we just embrace it now? Musicians don't NEED to make obscene amounts of money. Musicians don't NEED the whole parasitic superstructure of the music industry.

"Yes," you whine, "but how will I get heard? How will I survive without the labels to promote my stuff, and without copyright to squeeze cash from my recordings?"

You'll survive the same way as your ancestors did, by getting on the fucking road and gigging for a living, sunshine. So what if punters can download pale imitations of your performances from the internet? THERE'S your publicity. If they like you they'll want to hear you perform, and THAT'S where you make your money. You get a name for yourself by delivering a good time. If you don't have to support a huge publicity machine you don't need buckets of cash. Shit, if you live on the road, you don't even need a fucking HOUSE.

It's not for everyone, I know, but just think about it for a femtosecond. Abolish musical copyright! What do we lose? We might lose a bunch of fat-cat musos who can't afford to run the advertising and promotion that are the only thing that keeps them in the public eye. But we won't lose the music. We'll lose the people who are only in it for the money. And we won't lose the ability to distribute music widely - we've got the internet. And with digital recording technology you don't need to spend a fortune on studio time.

You want money to support your music habit? Then play it to paying audiences.

Intellectual property be damned! At least we'd be rid of Simon Cowell.

OK, so it's got a few flaws. But so did punk.

Next week: Andre tries to abolish copyright on books. "Get out there and READ them to people!", he rants.

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