In this op-ed, Chris Castle highlights a recent piece from musician and artist rights advocate Miranda Mullholland on how the pervasive algorithm based music culture is detrimental to artists and the creative process in general.
Guest post by Chris Castle of Music Technology Policy
If you’ve ever been in a job interview for coders, you’ll understand when I tell you that it’s like a cross between the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the hacking-on-shots employment interview scene in The Social Network that is a crude version of Socrates assaying for gold in your veins if Plato were Don Julio.
Whichever simile you prefer, one thing is clear: hackers value skills. So when Big Tech and the Silicon Valley shilleries take shots at professional musicians and other creators for being “elites”, it’s actually quite comical. Not to mention hypocritical.
Miranda Mulholland is one of the most articulate advocates for artist rights. Her talk at the Economic Club of Canada is among the top essays on the economic realities of being a professional artist in the post-Google creative apocalypse. In particular, Miranda tells the story of the independent “niche” artist who lacks the big advances from major labels because she creates outside of the Katy Perry-Coldplay-Rhianna style lock.
In her recent must-read post, Digital Revolution Fosters More Hurried, Less Skillful Creative Process Miranda points out the important negative effect of the algorithms that surround us (reminiscent of Cathy O’Neil’s groundbreaking Weapons of Math Destruction) and how an algorithmic life is antithetical to creativity and how creativity is the antidote to the algorithmic life.
It’s unfortunate that Google has actually attacked her in some twisted logic suggesting that supporting professional creators is somehow elitist. Given Google’s own vaunted personnel practices (for which it is currently being sued), and the smarter-than-thou hacker culture, you would have thought Google would embrace a call for professionalism among creators especially one from a professional creator who somehow manages to make a living in the current algorithmically compromised environment.