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Music

The Golden Age of Infinite Music 294

Posted by kdawson
from the in-the-air dept.
Over at the BBC, music journalist John Harris speculates on what may become of the music business now that we have entered the golden age of infinite music. "I've just poured the music-related contents of my brain into a book, and I would imagine that 30-ish years worth of knowledge about everyone from Funkadelic to The Smiths has probably cost me a five-figure sum, a stupid amount spent on music publications, and endless embarrassed moments spent trying to have a conversation with those arrogant blokes who tend to work in record shops. Last weekend, by contrast, I had a long chat about music with the 16-year-old son of a friend, and my mind boggled. At virtually no cost, in precious little time and with zero embarrassment, he had become an expert on all kinds of artists, from English singer-songwriters like Nick Drake and John Martyn to such American indie-rock titans as Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. Though only a sixth-former, he seemingly knew as much about most of these people as any music writer. Like any rock-oriented youth, his appetite for music is endless, and so is the opportunity..."
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The Golden Age of Infinite Music

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  • by soporific16 (1166495) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @03:18AM (#29940007)
    This is exactly why 'piracy' is such a good thing. Before, when there were tollbooths before all the artists of the world, we could only really sample the delights of a few. Now, there's no where on earth most of us could afford to pay for all the content we consume. How can we be convinced that it is GOOD to be able to only taste a tiny fraction of what is out there? The Big Music enforced tollbooths are a plague of this planet, and it is PIRACY, resolving the contradictions of digital content in the age of private property, that is the cure.
    • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @03:51AM (#29940123)

      I know this is an unpopular opinion and... my own behavior makes me a hypocrite here, but let's stop pretending that piracy is awesome and great just because some of the claims about it are exaggerated.

      Making music--good music--takes time and resources. Time that you can't really make money on, and instruments and (nowadays) computer equipment that is not free. Unless you sell the music you're essentially losing money, in most situations. And no matter what some slashdotters CLAIM, yes, many people will not buy albums at all just because they can get them off soulseek or bittorrent or, god forbid, limewire.

      If I had to wager I'd suggest the more popular the band, the more they're hurt, relatively, by piracy, with the completely unknowns actually benefiting because then they get exposure--if you haven't yet proved yourself, who is gonna buy your CD? Most stuff is crap. But those that have proved themselves... "hey, I know I like this guy's music but I'm a cheapskate so I'm going to download that anyway." So the unknowns probably benefit in getting a reputation and thus being able to sell CDs. The semi-knowns, the guys most people won't ever recognize and aren't played on the radio, probably hurt the most because they tend to be on smaller independent labels and don't get the big gigs and such well-known groups do--and their CDs are generally less visible, too, this day and age sometimes sold only over the internet.

      Now, I have bought CD albums I'd downloaded that I wouldn't have if I'd not. Yes, that happens. But most people just want free mp3s on their portable music player, they aren't concerned about supporting the artist or even having a pressed CD as a collector's item or for preservation. But quit pretending that one counterpoint on the piracy issue or the fact that the effects of piracy are exaggerated by the RIAA especially for famous bands means piracy is universally a "good" thing. For many artists, it's not.

      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @04:34AM (#29940249) Journal

        I know this is an unpopular opinion and... my own behavior makes me a hypocrite here, but let's stop pretending that piracy is awesome and great just because some of the claims about it are exaggerated.

        Piracy is awesome and great because copyright no longer serves to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts".
        Or do you really think the Berne Convention's life + 50 minimum accomplishes that goal?

        In the USA, life + 70 literally means that, at best, anything created in your lifetime will not become public domain until you are 70.
        More likely, you'll be dead and your children might see it fall into the public domain.
        I saw "might" because if the artist signed away their rights to a corporation, your grand-children will be the first to see it become public.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 01, 2009 @05:07AM (#29940349)

          In the USA, life + 70 literally means that, at best, anything created in your lifetime will not become public domain until you are 70.

          I recently gained a new perspective on this when I reflected on the following:

          Let's say a 20 yo composes a new song. It's not unlikely that the person might live to be 90. That's 70 years right there. Add another 70 after the composer's death and you have 140 years of "protection". That means a work entering the public domain this afternoon would have had to be composed in 1869 -- four years after the close of the Civil war, given the current US term of copyright.

          Ken Burns wold barely have been able to produce his PBS series as all the letters he quoted would have just been coming off copyright at the time he was working on the series.

        • by Fael (939668) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:27AM (#29941455)
          The thing is, people don't torrent Beyonce to protest the copyright status of Richard Strauss. They just want free stuff. If the duration of copyright were revised drastically downward, people would still pirate the most current music. I'm not defending life+70 - it's patently insane (ha ha) - but let's not pretend it has any bearing on this issue.
          • by grcumb (781340) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:00PM (#29945952) Homepage Journal

            The thing is, people don't torrent Beyonce to protest the copyright status of Richard Strauss. They just want free stuff. If the duration of copyright were revised drastically downward, people would still pirate the most current music. I'm not defending life+70 - it's patently insane (ha ha) - but let's not pretend it has any bearing on this issue.

            But that's the crux of the issue: copyright is effectively meaningless to most people.

            Whatever rights the artist may claim, the majority don't recognise them. If they felt some duty to pay, they would do so. But they don't. Nor do they feel that what they are doing is wrong, in spite of being told so. Sharing music appeals to the same part of human nature that gossip does - it's sharing of interesting information in order to solidify or improve one's status in a given group. It's an activity that's always been done freely, with no thought of (direct) recompense.

            The whole issue of so-called piracy is based on what, to most people, is a non-sequitur: 'The artist deserves to be rewarded for their work, therefore every one of you who listens to me has to pay.' The second statement simply doesn't follow from the first assertion. Worse, the question of who gets paid (and how much) quickly becomes a morass that's interesting only to those involved.

            For most people, their debt to the artist is measured in goodwill and little more. Sometimes that goodwill translates into an album purchase, a concert ticket and maybe a t-shirt, but that's incidental. One brilliant example: Bruce Springsteen [youtube.com] walks by a busker singing one of his songs, decides to join in. Everyone is treated to a live performance. And nobody puts a penny in the hat. Not even Bruce.

            I think ultimately that the entire framework of 'droits d'auteur' (author's rights) will have to be re-conceived before a renewal of the social contract between artist and audience can be considered.

        • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @04:52PM (#29944122)

          How is me arguing that piracy isn't all kittens and a field of flowers related to copyright length? Sure it's ridiculous, but again, let's face it, downloading mp3s for free on the internet is going to hurt artists.

          I actually don't believe in intellectual property because it's not a scarce resource. But I also recognize that artists need to eat, and for most artists the job is far less about money and more about individual creativity. They gotta eat so if I find something I'll like, I'll buy the CD, directly from them if able.

          I'm not the first slashdotter to say this by any means, but many of those that do this don't want to admit that that behavior is probably what the minority of file sharers do. Again, look at what I'm responding too--someone claiming that piracy is great. Downloading without giving the artist a dime is not really a "great thing" at all, in my opinion. An inevitability in today's world, yes. The problem is mostly that it's cultivating the mentality that artists don't need to get paid, and many people don't think twice about actually buying a physical CD just to support the artist like I personally think they should.

          So yeah, pirate, but don't pretend it's a "good thing" unless you really do plan on buying it if you like it.

      • by Jurily (900488) <jurily AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday November 01, 2009 @04:43AM (#29940281)

        And no matter what some slashdotters CLAIM, yes, many people will not buy albums at all just because they can get them off soulseek or bittorrent or, god forbid, limewire.

        Of course. But the solution to that is to sell to people who want to buy it, either to support the author, or to have a physical copy.

        People have been writing good music for fun (and for free) throughout history, just so that people can enjoy it. In fact, my suggestion to anyone who doesn't want me to listen to their music is to get a real job.

        P.S. I do buy music, mostly from local groups.

        • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Sunday November 01, 2009 @08:27AM (#29940923) Homepage

          Of course. But the solution to that is to sell to people who want to buy it, either to support the author, or to have a physical copy.

          If you're going to make this argument, please use words precisely. What you mean when you say "buy" is actually "donate". Almost by the definition of capitalism, if you are "selling" to somebody who doesn't have to pay you (in fact, probably won't) then you're actually operating a charity and relying on donations to survive.

          This isn't necessarily a bad model - as you point out, it has worked before. But it resulted in a stifling and uninnovative musical environment (good for religious folks though). If we're going down that road, society should be entirely clear about it to the musicians of the future. If a child ever says, "when I grow up I'm going to be a musician", we need to tell them - no you're not. Being a musician is a hobby that you do in your spare time.

          And if we're going to do that for music, then really we should be consistent and say that for every job that is based on people getting paid for copyrighted works. For instance, if that child says "oh well. in that case I want to make video games!" - same thing. No you're not. You will get a job where you are paid per hour of your labor like the rest of the world.

          Ditto for movies, books .... who knows what else in future.

          But in reality, nobody wants to take that position. You claim you do, because "people have made music without being paid before", but that logic doesn't really generalize to other things like movies or video games. Music might well survive through the power of the amateur, but the rest probably won't. The popularity of big budget movies and games strongly suggests that most people are not willing to let it go just yet.

          And that is why I think you are wrong.

          • by tepples (727027)

            but that logic [of donating part-time labor to art] doesn't really generalize to other things like movies or video games. Music might well survive through the power of the amateur, but the rest probably won't.

            Only because the consoles on which video games are run are such hostile environments to amateurs. Nintendo, for example, expressly forbids home-based businesses. Sure, PCs are more open to amateurs, but until home theater PCs become more common, PCs aren't suitable for all genres. If you want to see even a sliver of the effort that amateurs would take if not bound by artificial platform restrictions, look at the "homebrew" sites such as wiibrew.org.

      • by Nossie (753694) <IanHarvie@4Devel ... t ['opm' in gap]> on Sunday November 01, 2009 @04:57AM (#29940321)

        you know what I LOVE about piracy?

        What I REALLY REALLY LOVE?

        All the Spice girls and Brittany spears of this world will burn the quickest. No more bullshit bands manufactured, spliced and merged together for a 'formula' that will make [money/music]. The smaller bands will make more money from gigs and merchandise from the fans that actually support them. The local bands will get more notice and the record industry will become a small advertising house.

        I love VNV Nation, I've never bought an album... I did however see them in Glasgow last week and bought over £100 in merchandise because I want to ADVERTISE them... if they come back here again I'll do it again

        Who is the biggest fool? paying for the music and paying to advertise your favourite band? I dont think so .

        Gone is the era of the multi-millionaire superstar (although they will still make money) and why the hell not? they are just doing a job like anyone else - and as a bonus they actually like doing their job!

        Now I need the same to happen to sports stars and I'll be happy. NOBODY is worth millions of dollars/pounds and I'm sure the fans would love to knock 60% off the already inflated ticket prices.

        People will pay for what they believe in, the main difference here is that most of the music out there now is shite. You talk about all the small bands losing the most... why? they already make sweet F all as it is. Music will become what it should be for most - a part time hobby. Lets also be honest here, it does not matter how little you people artists... music will ALWAYS be made (and people will always play football).

        Let them burn, we are over it already.

        • by manicb (1633645) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @07:34AM (#29940755)

          The smaller bands will make more money from gigs and merchandise from the fans that actually support them. The local bands will get more notice and the record industry will become a small advertising house.

          What is a "local band" when people discover their music through the internet?

          The internet equivalent to a local band is a band that is big on whichever sources you use, i.e. myspace, Jamendo etc. It's the bands that your friends have found and link you to. For practical purposes that's a huge difference. Thanks to the internet, I've discovered bands that I love, who will NEVER EVER tour the UK. Why? Firstly because they may be playing a relatively niche genre of music, and would not be able to pull in enough people to make it worthwhile, even if they are excellent in that niche. Secondly because being a "part time hobby" band is pretty incompatible with touring.

          Music will become what it should be for most - a part time hobby. Lets also be honest here, it does not matter how little you people artists... music will ALWAYS be made (and people will always play football).

          You want to see bands live, and you're happy for all musicians to be part-time? Ok, say I blow a couple of weeks' holiday to tour... I'm not going to be touring anywhere near you, am I?

          I write/record/rehearse/perform in my spare time. I know I would be able to write far more, far better music if I was dedicated to it full-time. I have the utmost respect for those willing to make that leap, because it's quite a gamble and a sacrifice they are making, especially in this age. Is that good for music? Do you think a band like Radiohead could exist if they weren't 100% dedicated to it? You risk advocating quantity over quality.

        • by ergean (582285)

          Thank you!

          Never heard about VNV Nation but I love this:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu-8wGbWMro [youtube.com]

          Ahrrr!!! Here I go to pirate it. :D

        • by dwandy (907337) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @08:51AM (#29940997) Homepage Journal

          Now I need the same to happen to sports stars and I'll be happy. NOBODY is worth millions of dollars/pounds ...

          I was right with you until this point.
          The definition of what something is worth is what someone else will pay ... hence, these sports stars are in fact worth the millions they are paid.
          This is a pure economic equation: The sport franchise only needs N players* and they have revenue of R. Roughly speaking, the owner of the team is willing to pay "(R - other-expense) / N" per player.

          ...and I'm sure the fans would love to knock 60% off the already inflated ticket prices.

          Again, basic economics disagrees with you: there are N seats in the arena and G games. They can't manufacture more, so they are trying to determine the maximum price to sell N * G tickets each season. If you find the price steep that simply means that N * G people** in your area value tickets more than you do.

          On a related note, this is why movie stars get paid so much: the movie only needs one star and the production company expects to be able to make millions in revenue, and the belief that certain actors will generate greater revenue. Contrast with stage actors who don't get paid millions due to the limited income on a nightly basis. The important fact out of this is that we don't have to worry that without copyright acting will die. Tom Cruise, on the other hand will have to choose between not working, working as an actor for a lot less, or finding alternate employment.

          * For most businesses when they have extra money they can hire more people to try to do more of whatever they do. For a sports franchise they are prohibited from hiring more people, so they instead start to bid more for the better talent, driving the price per person up.
          ** Where some people value it so much that they purchase multiple games up to and including season's pass.

          • by amck (34780) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:57AM (#29941633) Homepage

            This only holds true in a free and fair market: where, given a free choice, people spend their money on Britney Spears, etc.

            The reality is a music market where in practice a cartel of music companies limit choice to maximise the money made on certain artists. They prefer, instead of running 10,000 artists, to sell 10-100, advertising 10.

            Companies like Sony-BMG, etc. ceased contracts with _profitable_bands_, as they maximize their profits when marketing costs are smaller, concentrated on a small number of "superstars". The chosen artist benefitted, but mostly the record companies benefitted; the consumer lost choice, and the bands they would have purchased from lost big-time.

            For this reason, I consider the record companies anti-music, and am happy to see them go. Its only the advent of easy copying that makes them divert from this policy.

            Similar arguments hold for professional sports, unfortunately.

        • Well, except when someone actually is worth millions, because he really is that great. Well not exactly millions, but a large sum to live in luxury. I can imagine humans who give others so much, that they deserve it. In German, deserving and earning are the same word for a reason!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nurb432 (527695)

          There will always be room for the 'produced bands'. Sure they will appeal to mostly pre and early teens, but the market wont dry up.

          I also disagree with your view on "worth", they are worth whatever they can get. YOU may not think they are worth it, but others do.

      • by turing_m (1030530)

        Making music--good music--takes time and resources. Time that you can't really make money on, and instruments and (nowadays) computer equipment that is not free.

        There are many things in life that are potentially worthwhile to boatloads of people, but don't have a workable business model (at least, not compared to selling out arenas). Cures for things - the money is in treating symptoms, not coming up with a cure. Teaching people how to live within their means, or warning them about the realities of Sciento

      • Piracy isn't a good thing, but let's face it, these bands of which you speak are never going to make any money. the *only* people who make money out of cds are the super famous and the record companies.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 01, 2009 @06:00AM (#29940499)
        I completely agree with you. Now, there is a factor that acts upon the rest of the world that is probably not seen inside the US, and completely ignored by most publishers. We usually pay A LOT of taxes to get some things imported. I live in Brazil (one of the countries that have more taxes in the world), and my friends in the US can't believe how much I pay for some things like CDs and books.

        An example is the Andy McKee albums. I really admire that guy. His album costs 14.95 at his publisher's website, a very reasonable price. When I look at sites to buy this in Brazil, I get the price of R$ 95 for the imported version. At a conversion rate of almost 2:1, this would be about USD 45. Now, remember we are in a third world country, and you can assume that we get paid half (for a good job, and I am being very optimistic here) of the average in the US. If you look at the percentage of money you spend in this things in relation to how much you earn, its a huge price. I would go to his show to support him, but travelling to another continent to do this is not an option.

        You in the US may imagine as well paying $100 or $150 for each album you want. Of course, not everything costs that much. All big artists are redistributed in scale by local publishers, and the price drops to $15 - $30. But most of the bands I like are not big, and the only option is to either import or buy the MP3 online, which I do sometimes. Books are more of a problem, since they need to get translated to be re-published, and this is much harder, specially the ones for very specific topics.

        Still, the parent post is right at the fact that we simply have too much choice. Yes, I would love to have money to pay for absolutely everything I download, but I simply don't have. And its not a matter of getting a better job, its simply impossible for a regular person that pays all the taxes, support the family, etc. I pay for some, I support them when I can. Its just impossible to support all of them. Also, I can read english and have an international credit card to buy PDFs and MP3. Its not the case of the majority of the people, specially regarding music.

        And I'm sorry, but I won't stop listening to music or reading books just because I don't have money to buy them. It may sound unfair, but its the truth.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by tepples (727027)
          I guess a solution for you is learn to like Brazilian bands, which (I'm guessing here too) don't get taxed as hard.
      • by Patch86 (1465427) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @06:24AM (#29940559)

        I want to know where this idea has come from that making music should make you a millionaire.

        Before the 20th century it didn't. Even some of the most respected composers in history earned only enough for a comfortable life, and the talented musicians could only expect a livable wage. Somehow, though, somewhere in the 20th century came the concept that every single mediocre pop act should earn 6 figure sums, and the "best of them" should be earning millions, into eternity.

        Traditionally, artists were expected to earn their crust from live shows- something which is not only not harmed by piracy, but actually bolstered by it. And traditionally, recordings and covers and such (insofar as they happened) were sold at only a little above cost.

        And somehow, despite this lack of monetary incentive, magnificent music still got made. Musicians made music because it was what they loved to do, and the music scene was a lot better for it.

        So enough of the painful regurgitation of the myth that "if you don't pay £10 for an electronic download of the latest album, music itself can't happen". When the music industry returns to a realistic business model, piracy will end.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          What business hasn't focused increasingly on wider distribution, lower quality, and powerful marketing to multiply profits? Do the guys at Google or Microsoft or Berkshire Hathaway or Walmart deserve their fortunes that make rock-stars look like blue-collar laborers? Sure, musicians are overpaid, but it's a little unfair to expect them to work in the name of pure art when everyone else in the post-industrial age is getting filthy rich. Even office workers expect to retire millionaires, doctors multi-million
        • by Wildclaw (15718)

          I want to know where this idea has come from that making music should make you a millionaire.

          I want to know where this idea has come from that making anything should make you a millionaire.

          While too small income differences are bad for motivation, too large income differences are bad for general health and morale (Not "moral"). It is a difficult balance to walk, but I think the US and many other countries lost it in the late 20th century. The top margin income tax percentages plummeted, and it didn't take long before the vultures came in to feed, transferring capital from productive companies to th

        • by dwandy (907337) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:02AM (#29941037) Homepage Journal

          When the music industry returns to a realistic business model

          The first problem is the terminology: "the music industry" does not have a problem with piracy. The "music recording and publishing industry" has a problem with piracy. Note that it's the Recording Industry Association of America that is talking. The recording industry keeps saying that the "music industry" is in trouble, but it turns out it's just the recording industry that's in trouble: the music industry revenue is up. [zeropaid.com]

          So if you're interested in helping to solve all this, the first thing is to take back the language: the music industry is not only alive and well - it's growing. People are spending more on music then ever before, it's just the recording industry that needs to adapt. (imho, they can adapt by following in the footsteps of the dinosaur and extinct already...)

      • While I agree that just taking the music isn't right. Who says music should be the price that it is? It's only a relatively recent thing where most musicians could be rich spoiled jerks.

        We have to assume society deemed them worthy of it. Maybe things have gone too far and people have realise they're not worth it. I see a legitimate reason why, for example, Madonna deserves to have millions as do the people working for her record label.

        Surely not having a job where you have to scoop shit out of a publi
      • by Mr2001 (90979)

        Making music--good music--takes time and resources. Time that you can't really make money on

        Hold on now. Why can't you make money on that time? If your labor as an artist is valuable, then you can sell it, just like a house painter or a gardener or a lawyer sells their time. Find some people who want you to write music, and convince them to pay you.

        and instruments and (nowadays) computer equipment that is not free. Unless you sell the music you're essentially losing money, in most situations.

        You don't need to sell the music any more than a house painter needs to sell painted houses, or a gardener needs to sell gardens, or a lawyer needs to sell trials.

        The act of writing and performing the music is what's valuable. Making copies, on the othe

      • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:41AM (#29941249)

        > let's stop pretending that piracy is awesome and great
            > just because some of the claims about it are exaggerated.

        Piracy is a bad, but it appears to be better than most of the alternatives we've seriously tried (although there are new models being tried which may prove better) and it's a boatload better than the direction music was going before digital copyright infringement became mainstream and it's giving a thorough kick in the pants to the people who were taking us in that direction.

        Economically, piracy is probably not sustainable in the long term. On the other hand, the model where a bunch of greedy gatekeepers slowly trickle out overpriced and overcontrolled garbage via a series of tightly held outlets wasn't culturally healthy.

        There's probably a solution that falls somewhere in between, but until we find it...

        c.

      • by Jawn98685 (687784) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:37AM (#29941507)

        >

        Making music--good music--takes time and resources. Time that you can't really make money on, and instruments and (nowadays) computer equipment that is not free. Unless you sell the music you're essentially losing money, in most situations. And no matter what some slashdotters CLAIM, yes, many people will not buy albums at all just because they can get them off soulseek or bittorrent or, god forbid, limewire.

        Rubbish. Utter and uninformed rubbish. Among the qualities that make a given piece of music, or a particular performance of a piece of music, "good", the technology stack is only a small part. It most certainly does not take take a raft of "instruments and... computer equipment..." to make good music. One of the most stirring performances I ever witnessed was the appearance by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox on the old Arsenio Hall show. Dave's guitar was the only "instrument" that cost any money at all, but the mastery displayed by the two artists that day was one of those rare magical moments that anyone involved in the performance and/or production of music knows so well; that chills-down-your-spine electrifying experience when it all comes together so perfectly and everyone in the room feels it. It wasn't the technology. One of the most powerful musical recordings I own is Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue". When that recording was made, over fifty years ago, they used then-state-of-the-art technology, which is to say "crude and simple technology" by today's standards. Nevertheless, "Kind of Blue" is still widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz recordings of all time. Recording technology that is far superior to that used to make those recordings is within financial reach of almost anyone. What is nowhere nearly so readily available, alas, is the mastery of the artistic and technological domains, both of which are required to make "good" recorded music. I hesitate to beat the "mp3 format sucks" drum yet again, but I'm afraid I must. The prevalence of shitty sounding "product", to the extent that quality lossless recordings are all but unavailable, has reduced the value that recorded music has. It used to be that part of that value was the distribution medium. It did cost a lot of money to make a recording and get it "pressed" and distributed. No more. People won't buy recorded music unless they see enough value in it. DRM is an attempt to artificially increase the "value" of a particular "copy" of a recording. The market is demonstrating, with alarming efficiency, that it will not tolerate such manipulation.

        If the recording "industry" is to survive, it needs to remake itself from the ground up. It needs to be about delivering a product that does offer enough value that people will pay something for it, even if that something is only a token amount that is calculated to provide the artists and engineers with enough incentive to keep doing a good job. That rather leaves out most of the traditional music industry payroll. The role of manufacturing LP's, tapes, or CD's is gone. Distribution? Anyone with a web server can distribute music. There is arguably still a role for the "A&R" people, but it is going to be vastly different too. The upshot is that music should cost the consumer a lot less than it does now, and that the artists, engineers, and producers should get the lion's share of the proceeds because it is they who are now producing the only thing of significant value.

      • by shiftless (410350) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:41AM (#29941531) Homepage

        I know this is an unpopular opinion and... my own behavior makes me a hypocrite here, but let's stop pretending that free software is awesome and great just because some of the claims about it are exaggerated.

        Making software--good software--takes time and resources. Time that you can't really make money on, and tools and computer equipment that is not free. Unless you sell the software you're essentially losing money, in most situations. And no matter what some slashdotters CLAIM, yes, many people will not buy software at all just because they can get it off APT or yum or, god forbid, portage.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gravos (912628)
      I'm not sure piracy is a good thing: the costs to society, especially in terms of legal enforcement, are immense. I hope it becomes irrelevant over time. Frankly I dunno why people are still so enamored of pirating music when there is so much GOOD stuff out there that's 100% free, legal, and sanctioned by the artists that you could listen to new music every moment of your life without spending a dime.

      Music, like other types of creativity, is in a race to the bottom because there's so much more content av
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Narpak (961733)

        ...and become enamored with particular artists, but the same doesn't really happen for particular writers.

        I would like you to reconsider that statement after I have listed the following names: Rowling, Meyer, Clancy, King. These are four random modern day authors each which a part of their audience being what I would call "enamoured" with their writing.

    • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @05:04AM (#29940339)

      Now, there's no where on earth most of us could afford to pay for all the content we consume.

      Perhaps because we consume so much more because we aren't worrying about paying for it.

      My father sits most of his days off in his chair reading and listening to an oldies station that plays the same 20 or so albums every day. I sit in my office at work and listen to a 1000 or so albums I've "acquired" sorted based on last listened to. That means I only hear the same song about once every couple months. We are listening to more music I'd say than previous generations just because we have convenient portable music devices, but we consume vastly more music than the previous generation just because we don't re-listen to things as much. Instead of getting an album a week or whatever instead whenever an artist we like, or even just an artist is recommended to us comes around we hit the internet and grab everything they've ever made. Maybe we only listen to it once and delete it but we don't care because we didn't pay for it.

      As for "music literacy" improving: perhaps. However I'd dispute most claims that it has any value. Very few people have work related to music, or even do any sort of critical thinking about the music. Heck most of my friends will even admit they don't care about the lyrics and haven't ever read them for their favorite bands. Music is just background noise that sounds good to us, that is about the extent that must of think about it. Being able to identify a band and name a song are very unlikely things to come up in a job interview or even in a social situation where people's view of you would depend on whether you know the answer or not. Its just trivia like people that can quote batting averages: no one really cares except the drunk idiot in the bar that is going to fight you during an argument over it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by nvivo (739176)
        Well, I'm sure your dad listened to a lot of other bands in his time. Maybe not as much as you do, but he surely did listen to more things.

        What happens is that some music gets stuck in your mind, and as you grow old, the rest of the world changes and you can't find new music that you like anymore, so you stick with the ones you already like.

        I bet in 40 years or so, you will be like this too, listening to the same old MP3 you have for 30+ years while your son and grandson make fun of how you listen onl
    • Its just common sense.

    • ...to your "problem" of availability. iTunes has done a pretty damn good job of making ALL kinds of music available to the world. So has the Internet in general, you can likely order any music you want off large portals like Amazon. You're not "smuggling" music across the border here, quit trying to justify the use of piracy like you have to. Lame excuse, regardless of how it affects the artist or not.

  • Not quite.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wanax (46819) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @03:18AM (#29940011)

    This is the age of infinite access to music that is considered popularly or culturally relevant. In times before recording, music was played constantly, but to see the critical acclaimed required one to buy a fairly expensive ticket. In the age since recording, the popular and acclaimed required purchase of a fairly expensive to make medium. Recently, the price of access to popular or acclaimed music has been some technical savvy. While DRM and legislative action may eventually curtail access to popular or acclaimed music, it will do no such thing to indy, modern or any un-acclaimed pieces or groups, because in such an environment enforcement will be expensive.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 01, 2009 @03:21AM (#29940023)

    That kid is likely destined to become an "arrogant bloke who tends to work in record shops".

  • I'd Rather... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @03:39AM (#29940095) Homepage Journal
    I'd rather put my money in a tip jar of garage bands in Japan, South Africa, Germany or elsewhere rather than spend another dime funding the RIAA's accusations that pretty much everyone who uses the Internet is a criminal. And funnily enough, every time I say this on Slashdot there always seem to be several replies telling me to check out some dudes and I end up doing just that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee (775178)

      Not going to advice any particular bands, there are great internet services you can use to find and discover new artists and new types of music.

      Sadly, due to copyright laws, none of these I can actually use in my country. Yay copyright! Copyright; protecting us from culture for over 50 years after death now!

  • by pyr02k1 (1640167) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @03:41AM (#29940099)
    When you get down to it, it is quite surprising the kinds of music my generation will listen to when given the chance. As was stated in another comment, in the past it was limited to what they wanted you to hear. You would be limited to the selection on the radio and nothing more. Now, with piracy galore and plenty of music services, such as Pandora, you get a taste of other varieties and artists you would never have heard before. I can go from listening to Heavy Metal to Techno to Country and then into Classical. My taste is open, simply because of piracy and the free services available. As time progresses, it'll be interesting to see how this shapes. Mainly because of how much the various MAFIAAs are trying to kill piracy in its whole, without an alternative, and yet refuse to decrease the price of a media that costs 1/50th to produce and distribute as they charge for it in a retail store. They continue to push and shove for people who pirate music to pay hugely outrageous fines, and yet they dont make it available at a reasonable price. Imagine having to go to a store and pay $15 for a loaf of bread, simply because they can charge that much and get away for it. It's a matter of time until fat people galore go running out of the store with 8 loaves stuffed in their pants. It stuns many of the people I talk to when they ask how I can go from one genre to another without being phased, and enjoy it all just the same, and I answer that without being forced to listen to only popular media and having the ability to open my horizons more then most, I can find more music and movies to enjoy then most people would ever dream... well, except everyone here. Not that any of us would ever pirate anything in our lives... of course not. Yayyyy Piracy! I mean ... ehh, heck with it
  • the album replaced by endless individual songs and music rendered pretty much worthless by the fact that it's universally free.

    Disagree. I have downloaded, and paid for, several full albums that are great - for example Polvo's new album "In Prism". What I think is about to change is live performances. Bands will tape high quality audio and video of live performances for easy purchase. This is not as widespread as it could be, and for indie bands is often relegated to audience tapings.

  • by foobsr (693224) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @03:53AM (#29940131) Homepage Journal
    Which indicates that either the domain is rather small or the semantics of 'expert' has changed dramatically.

    With regard to "all kinds of artists" (which probably should read 'various kinds of musicians' — but probably it takes longer to become an 'expert' writer) I suspect the former, the latter otherwise.

    CC.
  • Infinite music (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 01, 2009 @03:54AM (#29940135)

    From Funkadelic to The Smiths?
    From Nick Drake and John Martyn to Pavement and Dinosaur Jr.??

    Your point may be good, but christ, these examples of infinity and endless appetite for music cover a really, really small range of what music is.

    No wonder you were always so embarrased in the shop.

    On second thought, I'm not sure point is so good.
    On the evidence, the interwebz really just provide an opportunity to imagine one's broadened oneself by becoming even more deeply enmeshed in one little thing.

  • Choice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by symes (835608) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @03:58AM (#29940145) Journal
    Choice under these conditions has been studied. The stndard example is something like, someone goes into a store to buy a new tv - is confronted by 50 models, can't choose and walks out again. Whereas going into a tv store where there's only 5 models available, quickly makes a choice and walks out with a tv. The point is, more choice does not neccessarily mean easier choices. I have this problem myself - I want to listen to some new music, refresh what's on my iPod, but confronted by this vast ocean of music, almost limitless possibilities, I get exasperated and end up either not bothering or downloading another album from someone I know. Now, however, I have a new name to explore - Pavement - I don't have any of thier music. Anyhow - the point of this story was to say that infinite music is not neccessarily a good thing. I personally find I listen to the radio more and more... leaving the music choices to someone else.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is precisely why services such as pandora, last.fm, Imeem and the rest exist. Put in a few names from bands you know, and pandora will pop up half a dozen or more suggestions, more often than not, they are pretty good.

      it doesn't broaden your horizons all that much, but Imeem will, because it's idea of suggesting music is to load the page with the best ad income, even if it's an entirely different genre. However, while this practice is less than savory, it does tend to expose you to things y

      • by symes (835608)
        But even with Pandora you have to give it something and it finds similar... I'm kind of holding onto the idea that, out there, somewhere, there's a punk for cello quintet doing covers of hip hop classics that will just bowl me over... I kind of need a Pandora in reverse. Something that will look at what I like and, taking into account the dross I suffer on local and national radio, take me to places where I've never been before.
    • by khallow (566160)
      I don't buy the current research because it doesn't study the effects of learning. Currently, we have a population who have not learned how to deal with a large number of choices. That doesn't mean that fifty years from now, the general population will remain so undecided. Large numbers of choices require different strategies. For example, the use of random selection to cull the list. With but a coin, I can trim a list of any size down to a few on the order of log_2(N). IPod has "shuffle" which automates th
    • I use Spotify, and especially the radio feature to find new music.Spotify's radio can be narrowed on genre and time, so I can set it on techno & house from the current decade to find new elecronic stuff.

      As interesting stuff comes along I just add it to one of my playlists or make a note of the artist. When crap comes along I press 'next'. ;)

  • by gordguide (307383) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @04:07AM (#29940167)

    Certainly I can't argue with anything in the parent post: the youth of today are, often amazingly, and always re-assuredly, listening to music and learning about music that is "not of their direct experience" (which is, admittedly, a clumsy construct ... I'm not sure I really know how to describe what I mean by that; I'm hoping most people just get it).

    I remember going to the "record store" when I was a young pup. Here I was, amongst a seemingly limitless array of music, and I was, I thought, emperor of all that was before me. All I needed was $9.98 and I was there. It was much better than a library, and much more interesting than a class.

    Today, you need much less than ten bucks. You can sample what it took my money, or a friend's money, or an older brother's money, or a hip station to throw out there, today it costs what could be essentially described as "nothing but time". And time invested is not without cost, by any means.

    I sense a hint of failure, or resignation: something along the lines of "I invested all that and kids get it today by investing much less."

    But, that's what I enjoyed too, and so did the author of the parent. It's how he came about to know enough to write the book in the first place, a book his older brothers or his parents probably could not have written.

    And the kids still need you; they still help to find what they enjoy in a similar way. What's different is they listen to what their parents like, whereas I thought my parents were musically bankrupt. They value the music, and from that they put a higher value on the investment in time to explore the music, whereas we still had to figure in a larger investment in earnings balanced by that time.

    It is, in so many words, and example of what limited distribution cost us all; what the RIAA cost us by it's business model of days gone by, and what the music industry needs to learn to exploit, if it's to survive, rather than rail against.

    It's a good thing.

  • by steveha (103154) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @04:22AM (#29940217) Homepage

    I'm finding new music I like at a far faster rate than I was ten years ago. The biggest difference is that now, I have Rhapsody [rhapsody.com]. (Just like the guy who wrote TFA mentioned that he has Spotify [spotify.com].)

    I can find an artist I like, and there are links on the page. Hey, you like Genesis? Check out Steve Hackett, Brand X, and Mike + the Mechanics, and Alan Parsons Project and Yes; check out "Art & Progressive Rock"; check out playlists that other users made that relate to Genesis; in short there are literally dozens of links. Some of the links are tenuous and unlikely, yet I have used them to branch over to music I really like: Genesis to Peter Gabriel to Synergy (Larry Fast) to Zero 7 and Infected Mushroom.

    Even if you don't sign up for a music service, you can do something similar with a large online store such as Amazon. You can only hear short samples, not the full song, but you can still navigate a web of connections.

    It used to be that to even hear about obscure music, you had to subscribe to music newsletters or hang out in non-mainstream record shops or at least have a friend who did those things. Now you can click around from song to song, and if it takes you nine songs you don't like to find one you do like, you are still only out a couple of minutes. And if you are like me, and you listen to albums many times if you like them, it's totally worth spending a little time branching out. Add in a little bit of time looking bands up on Wikipedia and other sources, and you too can be as much of a music expert as someone who writes for a magazine.

    The RIAA and the big labels fear this new world. They want to keep charging for music as if it were a scarce commodity. I read an interview with a guy from a studio, and he defended the high price of CDs: the price is fair because it's really hard to be a studio; you have to try to find new acts, and when you guess wrong, a whole bunch of CDs go into a landfill. Well, guess what: on the Internet, you can just provide the music, and if nobody likes it, it will just sit there; and if people do like it, you make pure profit. No CDs need be produced and then landfilled. The costs go way, way down with digital distribution. They want their costs to drop, while still charging the same inflated prices they try to justify on CDs; that won't work.

    The future of music is: everything available on the Internet, at lower prices than if you buy CDs. Most artists will not bother to sign their fortunes over to big record studios; they will retain control of their music, and deal more directly with the customers. There will still be middle-men, but fewer of them, and they will make less money (which doesn't sound good if you are a middle-man but sounds pretty darn good to me). And absolutely nothing will go out of print. If an album sells two copies a year, it has paid back the costs of letting it sit on a server and it is already slightly in the black.

    I remember, when I was in high school, how truly huge and popular certain bands were. Whether you liked them or hated them, you recognized Styx or Van Halen when you heard them. In the future, new bands may find it impossible to reach the same level of success and recognition, because everyone will fragment themselves into small sub-markets. It will be hard for any one act to capture everyone's full attention and hold it for more than a very short time.

    steveha

    • I read an interview with a guy from a studio, and he defended the high price of CDs: the price is fair because it's really hard to be a studio; you have to try to find new acts, and when you guess wrong, a whole bunch of CDs go into a landfill. Well, guess what: on the Internet, you can just provide the music, and if nobody likes it, it will just sit there; and if people do like it, you make pure profit. No CDs need be produced and then landfilled.

      No offense intended but you completely misunderstood the gu

  • With so much music to listen to, will such a person bother listening to a whole album from that artist, or will that person just listen to a playlist of singles? I'm inclined to believe that with infinite music available, you'd skim the top of the best hits of each artist, and omit discovering other songs on the album that would be worth investigating. Infinite music doesn't mean you have infinite time available to listen to it all. Wheras when you had limited amounts of music, you probably spent more tim
    • by daveime (1253762)

      Again, this is probably a result of the "mass-produced" crap that gets churned out these days.

      Back in the early 80's, I'd head up to the record shop with my savings, buy an album that I knew already had 2 or 3 good songs on it, and be fairly certain that the other 7 or 8 would also be good. I was rarely disappointed and usually felt like I'd got my money's worth.

      Nowadays, albums consist of the 1 hit wonder that made the artist famous, 2 or 3 "remixes" that cost nothing extra in studio recording time, (or wo

    • i don't think so, personally i think with the removal of the more blatant commercialism from music you'd probly get more people listening to bands than singles, but it's a dice roll.
  • Is that it attempts to capitalize on something that is based on an emotional response, perhaps even an emotion need, some may argue. There is something about music gets us moving, or thinking, or crying or something. It's just uncanny how it works out sometimes. But music just gets whored out to the masses these days and no one even thinks twice about it. No one questions lyrics that don't even begin to make sense. No one questions why melodies haven't evolved much in the past 100 or so years of mainstream
  • by Bazman (4849) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @05:54AM (#29940481) Journal

    Now he should try asking that kid about The Beatles. He may well find that the infinite music is not a continuum.

    • by petrus4 (213815)

      Now he should try asking that kid about The Beatles. He may well find that the infinite music is not a continuum.

      Simple test to see if pirated music is truly infinite online.

      As two examples, try finding either of these two albums:-
      Serenity, by CultureBeat.
      You Gotta Believe, by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

      • by Bazman (4849)

        The real test is finding Music For Supermarkets by Jean Michel Jarre.

        [he made one vinyl copy then destroyed the multitrack tapes and the masters]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jimicus (737525)

        A little Google-Fu: search for "artist name" intitle:index.of mp3 -html -htm -php -asp -txt -pls

    • > He may well find that the infinite music is not a continuum.

      Or he may just find that crap (i.e., 99.9% of popular music and 100% of the Beatles) is ephemeral.

  • and so is the opportunity... to screw another generation of consumers..( and perhaps the last )

  • Did he just "think of the children" the pro-piracy side of the copyright debate??? Ok, now that's impressive. :)
  • Oh, by "infinite music" I thought they meant algorithmically generated music. Like this piece of music [metamath.org] from the Metamath Music Page [metamath.org].

    A golden age for that? Were there breakthroughs in artificial neural networks I hadn't heard of? Or have musical expectations fallen just that low?

    I do wonder what would happen if you took the output from a random number generator to make a valid MP3 file and then played back that MP3 through an Autotuner.

  • When I was at school (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:45AM (#29941553) Homepage

    I knew loads of people who had rooms *full* of cassette tapes. You could record music off the (freely broadcast) radio and all the car boot sales sold pirate tapes.

    The idea that:

    a) Every downloaded copy is a lost sale

    and

    b) P2P has somehow changed the piracy game.

    Is ridiculous.

    Some people just copy/hoarde, period. They're not going to buy legally no matter what.

  • by jedigeek (102443) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @12:17PM (#29942169) Journal

    I like the way this article starts with "Over at the BBC", as if Slashdot is a publication of equal professionalism and reach.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @01:10PM (#29942450) Homepage

    We already have a form of "infinite music" - DJing. But so far, DJs can't do very much to the music. They can play with timing and mixing, and maybe do some scratching, but that's about it.

    Now look at Vocaloid 2 [google.com]. Load up a singer model, a lyrics file, and a MIDI file, and out comes reasonably good music. [crypton.co.jp] (It's in Japanese; this was the #1 program for sale on Amazon Japan for a while.)

    Currently, building a singer model for Vocaloid requires about a week of work by the singer. Working backwards from existing music to a vocal tract model and a style model isn't yet available. But as machine learning techniques progress, that problem should be solved.

    When a DJ has the option to play any song with any musicians, then we'll have infinite music. The day may come when musicianship will be an archaic art like calligraphy and oratory.

    (Even better, the RIAA can't stop it. These are "covers", even though they're machine-generated. You have to pay the small statutory royalty to the composer, and you owe the musician and the recording company nothing.)

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