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Zoe Keating is a cellist. She plays experimental, neo-classical music, looping cello lines through effects pedals so she can accompany herself. I find her music dreamlike and beautiful.

She doesn't have a record label. Her albums are self-released. What she does have is over a million followers on Twitter. So to promote her upcoming new album Into the Trees, she wrote a Twitter app where her fans could get a free track in exchange for a tweet.

The company that worked with her to created the app have now released the code for free, under an open-source BSD licence.

Meanwhile... the RIAA and MPAA have filed a joint submission for the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's upcoming Joint Strategic Plan.

Their suggestions? Spyware installed on people's computers. Internet service providers being forced to scan and filter their connections for copyright violations. Getting customs official to "educate" visitors about copyright law. Using the USA's economic power to bully other countries that have less draconian copyright laws. And using tax-payer funded federal agents to to enforce copyrights for private companies.

I suppose I can't blame the MPAA and the RIAA. I'm sure the dinosaurs roared and gnashed their fangs after that asteroid hit, and the sky went dark, and they lost the sunlight that they needed to live. No one goes down without a fight.

But the world had changed. The great lizards died out. Small furry mammals took their place.

And then one day, the great-great-great-great grand-daughter of those mammals played the cello, and released her music over the internet. And it was beautiful.

That's how you make money out of art, guys. You make something beautiful.

sharplittleteeth: (Default)

I've discovered a new band. I think I might be in love.

The band is The Indelicates. They're British indie-punk, sort of a cross-between Carter USM and Bis. And like Carter, their lyrics are a mix of clever vitriol and bittersweet romanticism.

Here, this is as good an introduction as any: 'We Hate The Kids', by the Indelicates. (It's a live video. Don't let that put you off.)

(There's lots more up on YouTube. I particularly like 'America' and 'Our Daughters Will Never Be Free'.)


Jack of their record label, they're releasing their second album through their own web-label, Corporate Records. Here's the Corporate Records logo:

Which gives you a good idea of where they're coming from. :)

Anyone can sign up to Corporate Records. Albums are released as the Radiohead-style pay-what-you-want model.

Trent Reznor has been pretty scathing about this model: he said you should either give your music away for free, or charge what you as an artist believes it's worth. Because it's pretty gutting to pour your heart and soul into your work, and then have some snotty-nosed teenager says it's only worth 50 cents.

The Indelicates look at it slightly differently.

Simon Indelicate wrote a thought-provoking article arguing that the only reason recorded music was able to be sold at a profit for the last century was because there were certain bottlenecks to the production and distribution of music. And now those bottlenecks are falling away, it's questionable whether it will even still possible to make any money from music:

Perhaps the closest model for the future of recorded music is the sad, funding-dependent, workshop-running, pleading and dwindling subculture that still writes poetry while dreaming of the infamy of Byron. I don’t know.

Here's a far more optimistic view from [ profile] elmyra's post Why Content is a Public Good:

Consumers' relationship with art and artists will change. It will be a lot more direct. Art isn't the shiny disc that you buy from Tesco's anymore. It's the project that your favourite artist announces on their blog and asks you for funding and posts updates about and that you wait for with increasing excitement.

I'm thinking about this a lot at the moment.

Obviously this all relevant to the book I'm writing. It's about how the music industry has changed since the 90s, after all.

But I'm also thinking about this because the Kindle and the iPad are going to change the book publishing industry in exactly the same way as the iPod did to the music industry.

And if you're thinking "oh, but an electronic device will never replace the tactile pleasure of a real paper book", congratulations! You can sit in the corner over there with the vinyl collectors. They said exactly the same thing, and they were just as wrong.

Information doesn't want to be free. It wants to be easy. Convenience and availability trump quality. That's why VHS beat Beta. That's why everyone's listening to tinny MP3s instead of DAT tapes.

So what does this all mean for an unknown writer working on his first novel?

I'm writing this thing for people to read it. I want it to be published. I want it to be taken seriously, which seems to be the big thing a publishing house can offer to a new release.

Am I wasting my time?

Is print --and the novel with it-- finally dead?

Or is this a brave new world, just waiting for bold new pioneers?



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February 2019

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