Consider for a moment how were the profits of the “old” music industry won: By subjecting listeners and musicians — and indeed, our very culture — to a laundry list of horrendous commercial exploitation. Price fixing, payola, unpaid royalties, market monopolies, ticket surcharges, obscenely exploitative record contracts, manufactured popularity, censorship, perpetual copyright and destruction of fair use and the public domain… the list goes on and on. In short, the old way of doing things sucked and we don’t care if a few of that era’s successful artists no longer get mailbox money for music they recorded decades ago. We certainly don’t care if the record industry, which enabled these injustices, dies a slow, public death.
Free Culture opponents often suggest technology somehow caused our generation’s desire for compensating musicians to evaporate. But it was clearly the corruption and ineptitude of the industry itself that is to blame for this negative attitude toward paying for music. Digital music technology provided the opportunity musicians and listeners have been waiting decades for — to balance the industry’s unchecked power, and maybe eke out a more sustainable living in the process.
In what may, or may not, have been a misstep, Lowery posted his rant to The Trichordist blog whose tag line, Artists For An Ethical Internet, says it all. In using that tag line they show in brilliant light how much they misunderstand what the Internet is. And by doing so they undermine the very validity of their presence on the Internet. They can yell at the Internet into infinity and it will never blink.
The Internet can not be ethical. Only users of the Internet can be said to be ethical, moral, or philosophical; they may be terrorists, kidnappers, racists, deviants; they could also be atheists, religious zealots or spiritualists; they might be gay, straight, bi, married, divorced; employed, destitute…the list goes on. Whoever they may be they are users. The Internet is its own thing. The Internet doesn’t give a damn about musicians or your mediocre band.
And finally there’s this – Lowery writes about “immoral and unethical business models.” And includes this – “..they are “legitimate” companies like Google.” What’s with the quotes around “legitimate” does Lowery think Google is not legitimate? No, he thinks Google is the problem (read Devil..) because Google in his mind owns the “Unethical Internet” because of its advertising prowess. And I quote – “Google is also selling ads in this neighborhood and sharing the revenue with everyone except the people who make the stuff being looted.” Looted! Unbelievable.
He then rambles on about the “cost” of free music downloading – the $1000 laptop, the costly iPhone or Tablet, as if people only use these products to download music! He also falls into the same trap that U2′s manager, the ISP bully Paul McGuinness, falls into – blame the ISP’s for allowing access to the Internet, where as we know, people only go to steal music.. McGuinness is so well informed about the Internet that in the Billboard article I linked to he talks about the Googles! And he also said this about Apple and Google – “They didn’t invent the MP3, they just made the best one.” Erm.., what?
Clearly this a fool’s errand. At least we know who the fools are. They are what the economist Paul Krugman calls “Very Serious People,” for only they know how to fix things.