Major Labels

‘Most Ways That Artists Try To Earn Money Will Fail.’

image from Guardian columnist Helienne Lindvall had some choice words for the proprietors of free last week. Among those charged with misleading artists and telling them to give everything away for free was Cory Doctorow, co-editor of Boing Boing. Funny thing is, Doctorow is a Guardian columnist too. So, when accused of charging high speaking fees on one side of the equation and expulsing the power of free as a marketing tool on the other, all he had to do was pen a new column himself.

Lindvall had thought that she had it all figured out. This "guru" is misleading artists. In Doctorow’s response, he corrects Lindvall on her number of errors and accusations and has a few interesting things to say about the truth of choosing artist as a career and why the real people misleading artists aren’t of his ilk:

"The sad truth is that almost everything almost every artist tries to earn money will fail. This has nothing to do with the internet, of course… Almost every artist who sets out to earn a living from art won't get there, whether or not they give away their work, sign to a label, or stick it through every letterbox in Zone 1. All artists should have a fallback plan for feeding themselves and their families. This has nothing to do with the internet – it's been true since the days of cave paintings."

Next, Doctorow goes into detail about the people who he feels are truly selling snake oil to artists. Namely, those who tell us that had it not been for all those moral lacking, pirate scum, artists—across all backgrounds—would be making a living as employed creators. It’s only because their art can be easily file-shared that they’re not making any money. If we could only prevent those nasty children from sharing their music, they’d have so much money that they wouldn’t have to Twitter all day and give away their music. The cut-throat music industry would turn into a Disney movie overnight and artist equality would echo within those once impenetrable walls. Just help the RIAA turn the web into the biggest digital lock and top-down, corporate marketing paradigm that the world has ever seen and they’ll ensure that all artists will make a living off their recordings again.

"You know who peddles false hope to naive would-be artists? People who go around implying that but for all those internet pirates, there'd be full creative employment for all of us. That the reason artists earn so little is because our audiences can't be trusted, that once we get this pesky internet thing solved, there'll be jam tomorrow for everyone. If you want to damn someone for selling a bill of goods to creative people, go after the DRM vendors… the labels…  [and] the studios…" (Read on.)

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  1. Regardless of who is right, one thing is for certain: it has become culturally okay to get music illegally. I mean, if you criticize the idea that music “should be free” you become a cultural pariah. Why? Why is it wrong to be critical of music theft? Because that’s what it is. I mean, until they change the law, you can’t just take someone else’s stuff for nothing. Lars was right! Now, I don’t think everyone would be rich if music theft went away, but I do think we would be better off. Let people chose if they want to give their stuff away (they probably still will) but to say they have no choice, well, legally that’s just not true.

  2. Piss off and STFU Helienne Lindvall, Artists didn’t ask you for your opinion, and damn if we ever will. Another f**king negative critic with shitforbrains.

  3. Of course, it’s also just as misleading to tell artists that the Internet has made it easier to make a living in art. The lost of CD income has hit unsigned artists, too. Selling CDs at shows used to be a great way to make money. If your fans aren’t buying, you’ve lost that income and there haven’t been new ways to make it up. If anything, people are paying less for shows, and the recession has limited the amount of money people will spend on merchandise.

  4. Psst… been to a college campus recently? It is culturally OK to get alcohol illegally. Of course students know it’s illegal: that’s what the fake ID is for.
    And this is in spite of some really serious enforcement mechanisms and broad public support for a 21-year-old drinking age.
    (There’s also my abiding mirth at the industry that became wealthy by bringing us Sex&Drugs&Rock’n’Roll, and a general attitude of not bowing to authority, clinging to an abstract construct like IP law. “We are forces of chaos and anarchy, everything they say we are, we are… – J. Airplane, 1967)

  5. And what band does Cory play in then? I thought so…But Cory, Chris, Seth, and others are making out like rockstars giving high priced lectures and appearances. It’s easy for Cory to talk about “giving it away for free.” A good call by Helienne Lindvall.

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