How Garth Brooks Harms Music Incomes Of Others

image from images.askmen.com The Copyright Alliance pointed me to a letter that musician Monisa Angell wrote the Obama Administration. If you want to see the arguments in the music industry painted in black and white. Her note is certainly the black. She raises the question, "Can we afford to have a country where the creator has no value?" Well, no. Creators are valuable, as are their creative works, given the optimum market conditions. No one has ever contested that. Most worrisome is the tone she strikes. At the very least, the mental leaps made. Let's just blame Comcast, Apple, and Sprint for making music piracy kits; they empower their users to "steal from the creative class of this nation."

Yes. It's the fault of Comcast for allowing users to download creative works using their net connection. It's the fault of Apple letting users load any file to their iPods. Worse still, software programmers are creating the clients that facilitate this behavior, making it blatantly easy for users to acquire creative works without paying for them. So, we need to turn ISP's into piracy police, push Apple to lockdown their media devices, and better yet, take the web from something that enables unplanned and unforeseen innovation and turn it into an iPhone.

That way, all sites that are marked as infringing in nature, such as the Pirate Bay, can be kicked out of web — like the app store — in a matter of seconds.

Why? Angell argues, "The royalty funds which literally provide for my livelihood are endangered as traditional music business models fail." So, the traditional way of doing things should be preserved, to ensure the flow of music royalties and the rest of this net and tech nonsense should be laid to waste. Anything that is challenging the income of Angell should be stopped, stalled, and banned.

No other reasons for the failure of the traditional models are presented. This music piracy problem could be buttoned up and solved tomorrow if the Obama Administration only followed Angell's line of thinking. Interestingly enough, she cites that a "virtual tsunami" has hit the creative industries head-on, causing many to "believe that content (music, books, movies, etc) should be free."

Unfortunately, the publishing industry would be greatly disappointed by the end result of the suggestions made by Angell, because technological innovations didn't teach readers that books are free or that authors shouldn't be compensated for their creative works. In fact, two of the most common ways that readers get books today, as reported by James McQuivey at Forrester Research, is by borrowing them from a friend or getting them from the library. "Evidently content — at least in the book business," McQuivey says, "is already quite free, even without the help of digital." Thus, banishing the web and the technology companies that homestead it wouldn't do much good. It would do nothing to change the perceptions of readers that already get books for free without paying.

As legal scholar Larry Lessig suggests in his book Free Culture, our focus should not be on finding ways to break the Internet. Instead, our focus should be on making sure that artists are paid, Lessig argues, "while protecting the space for innovation and creativity that the Internet is." Angell doesn't want that. The future she appears to favor is any one that ensures that she is compensated for her music and now. It doesn't matter what elements of the web we lose on the way.

Finally, it's worth noting that one of the most prominent music figures that Angell has recorded with is Garth Brooks. Now, given that I grew up in the country, I happen to like some of his songs and understand why he's popular. Yet, you have to ask, why would anyone pirate the works of Mr. Brooks? Well, because fans can only buy his albums in full — disc and all — and after a preliminary check, it appears that his music isn't available on Rdio or MOG either. Since Angell recorded with Brooks and, as she stated, she depends on these royalties, it seems as if she can't blame Apple's iPod wholeheartedly for her situation.

The "traditional music business model" is failing, sure, but Brooks has failed to embrace the new one. Thus, the reason why fans are file-sharing his works has more to do with the fact that he has chosen to offer them in a format that fans don't want and has neglected to make them available on legal streaming sites. In doing so, Brooks has inadvertently created a situation where fans are file-sharing his works and Angell isn't getting her money. Yet, rather than acknowledging this oversight and telling Brooks to get with the times, Angell blames everyone else for her situation and wants to wreck the web to correct it. One hopes that if the Obama Administration reads her opinions, they take them with a grain of salt.

After all, despite how big of a pirate Steve Jobs is, selling those storage lockers for stolen music, he's more than willing to sell Garth Brooks singles on iTunes.

"Personal devices such as I-pods and mobile phones are not free. Computers are not free. Internet Service is not free. The distribution of content is not free. Building a website is not free. Content should not be free. If we are not willing to pay for content, then the content (product) has no value. The creator has no value. Can we afford to have a country where the creator has no value? …companies such as, Comcast, Apple, Sprint, software companies, and the like, all provide the opportunity for their users to steal from the creative class of this nation." (Read on.)

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  1. Very interesting, let’s see how this plays out, personally don’t think anything will really change anytime soon.

  2. The presupposition that whining to a government authority clearly illustrates the vapid thought process Ms. Angell sadly resides in. Unfortunately, one cannot comment on her “remedies” without also questioning the legitimacy of her argument. Obviously she lives in the Old World. Obviously she looks for big targets to blame, rather than adjust her business model to see the new opportunities the new landscape presents.
    The saddest truth about working in and around and with creative types is this: many creative people are pretty un-creative outside of their field of expertise. (Which could lead to a whole other conversation about which kinds of creativity actually HAVE value, but that’s another conversation.) Whether or not it’s because creative types can become self-absorbed in their craft, or because you believe there’s a limit on the number of good ideas one person can initiate, the story repeats itself over and over again: creative people get stuck behind bad non-creative processes. Brilliant people bogged down by bad mechanisms.
    Where in human history has legislation EVER prevented piracy, physical or intellectual? Never. Attorneys make millions trying to craft and then obfuscate the language of patents, copyrights, and territories. One man builds a fence, another crafts a better shovel or ladder to get around it. Over and over again…
    Ms. Angell lives in some weird bubble where elected officials wear capes and possess superhuman powers that stop the forces of human nature, and resist the temptations their unique powers afford them to wield over their constituencies.
    Additionally, she’s an elitist and an ignorant one at that. Who the hell makes up this “creative class of this nation?” I’m sorry, I didn’t get my Creative Class Membership card or any of the privileges it must afford me. Neither did any of the working musicians and writers I work and communicate with every day.
    Ms. Angell, maybe you should leave the aquarium for awhile and breathe the real air the rest of us knuckleheads have to deal with everyday. Maybe then you’d see that the world is a much different place, difficult for sure, but not nearly as difficult as legislators and policy-wonks would like to remake it into.

  3. what those new business models again with an actual ROI?
    let me get this straight…
    Paying to Support and Create Content and Compensate Creators = UNCOOL
    Stealing from Creators and Contributing Nothing to the Creative Process = COOL
    wow. just wow.

  4. The problem in this debate is the idiocy on both sides of this question those that support the unlimited technology and those that want to stop it.
    The argument for example to justify digital piracy that most people get their books from borrowing a friend’s is so stupid as to be criminal. If you think about it for more than a nanosecond, the physical book has to have been purchased and it cannot clone itself a billion times. It also wears out and some folks want them back.
    The system is broken and the technologist have their responsibility in that chain. Key word is responsibility. At some point we need to face the fact that legality and correctness, that product and culture are not the same and if we chose to live with dignity and culture we will need to make decisions not entirely based on profitability or by exploiting legal loopholes.

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