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Cynic
Sorry for my absence -- I've been focusing on classes. (I've not been kicked out yet, but I think I've managed to get my Modern Art History recitation instructor to wince when I raise my hand for fear that I'll again point out the sky-castle reasoning the course requires that you just accept. In science, citing sources and peer review are necessary evils that serve as valuable assets. In art history, I fear they are used most often as an appeal to authority to make one's opinion sound more substantial because it is based on the opinions of others, where doubling down on unsupported and unsupportable arguments makes them stronger somehow. But I digress.)


Anyway, to re-enter, I'd like to get a claim (and consequently some claims here) verified; this will also recenter the discussion on the subject of the thread. What follows is a quote from an opinion piece and a link to that piece. It was written by "the enemy" but I found a number particularly interesting:

"Policy makers had recognized a constitutional (and economic) imperative to protect American property from theft, to shield consumers from counterfeit products and fraud, and to combat foreign criminals who exploit technology to steal American ingenuity and jobs. They knew that music sales in the United States are less than half of what they were in 1999, when the file-sharing site Napster emerged, and that direct employment in the industry had fallen by more than half since then, to less than 10,000. They studied the problem in all its dimensions, through multiple hearings." -- Carey H. Sherman

http://www.nytime...copyrights


That figure, if true, is rather startling. Half. Declining birthrates in the US since the early 1990s probably factors into that. But at the same time, people have music with them in portable form at all times now more than in any previous time in human history. Not just a cassette or two, but one's entire music collection on a chip the size of my thumbnail.

So my question is, if this figure is correct, how is the statement "only a minority engage in music piracy" supportable? If it isn't correct, what is the correct figure and what does that figure indicate?
 
Theory_Execution
To address your digression: I am a dab hand and dabbing hand to paper, a stroke master with those master stroke inventions of pencil and paper - but I too have a great issue with opinion and understanding of Art - be it drawing, painting or writing - there is too much of 'This is what the author meant', which in some cases is the case, and history of the creator can shed some light onto a piece. But then other times, they did it cus it looked nice.


Too many factors to call those numbers as a result of digital theft, even if they are correct.

But here are a few things to think about:
Physical album sales have continued to decline
Digital album / single sales have climed
Overall a general dip currently

It is much easier to build a database, staff it with a few IT professionals and get yourself a good upload rate than to keep staff trained in making CD's, selling them to shops, transporting them to shops, developing album art, approaching printers to make the art etc etc - as a result, the number of direct employed from the industry drops.

Add the fact that technology has increased to the point where you can make any "hurting hound" sound reasonable, you no longer need sound engineers to kit out, fit out and maintain a studio.

But the above also has an impact on the quality of music released - it is no surprise that folk and small live gigs are coming back into focus as people become sick of over edited rubbish. A shake in the voice is appreciated, shows an artist is trying.

When you base your economic model on Album sales, you are backing a loser when you cant find the talent to fill an album.

A lot of music is enginered to reflect the current vibe of the youth, and if you get that right, you get a number one, but then your second third fourth fifth sixth songs would all have to sound the same as the first... there is a severe drop in the artists leading the trend, instead it is research groups studying trending. They have been doing this since MTV came into effect, paying children to sit around and discuss what's cool and happening, so they can enginere something to match that and get quick sales.

The 'dawning' thing becomes 'yesterdays news', and the artists they have created from whole cloth look out-moded/behind the times, this is exacerbated by the internet age - it moves faster than the TV and Video age.


Some other dates to think about:

DVD - 1995
Playstation 1 - 1995
Playstation 2 - 2000
XBox - 2001
XBox 360 - 2005
Playstation 3 - 2006
Blu-ray - 2006

Music was a huge part of peoples lives, because there was little other easily transferable media around at the time of the CD boom and desk top PCs were relatively expensive.

The console gaming saw a great leap forward from earlier systems, they offered a price near half that of a good PC and games multiple people could play. It is no surprise that other hobbies lost out to this increasing market.

The last big nail in the coffin of the argument, all business is dropping in the world, people are in serious financial trouble, so where money would be spent on the finer things in life, people are now more concerned about maintaining a roof over their heads.
 
seeker
Cynic - Modern Art History, or any version of Art History, is mostly subjective. Many major movements were considered abominable in their times, with historians only jumping on board once they realized that particular style would not go away. The biggest selling movement in the history of Art was the Impressionist period, a period considered so bad by critics of the time that its very name is a derogatory reference to the fact that critics considered their work to be mere impressions of paintings.

Back to the topic...

A lot of that dropoff is due to how music is marketed now. People are buying individual songs instead of being forced to buy an entire CD. Here is a brief analysis.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Theory_Execution
Yet there are other things.

Take my wage for instance. I am a graduate of Physics in my third year of full time employment. My wage is (in figures, not adjusting for inflation) less than the average wage of ten years ago (20% less). Adjusted for inflation, my wage is less by about 46%.

By my age, my parents were on the property ladder (I have no chance of this).

But what does the world possess that was not so in my parents youth? There are CD's, DVDs, Blu-rays, mobile phones, smart phones, notebooks, netbooks, laptops and so on. All demanding your attention, but more importantly your disposable income.

The ever profitable business model does not exist outside of basic fundamentals of life maintenance and death prevention. Eventually a peak is reached. The music industry will not recognise this, and refuse to change.


Refering back to your article, if the industry were aware of the cutting blade of Napster, why did it take so long for them to develop tools like iTunes and Amazon mp3?

Precisely because they didn't, they resisted the change in order to set regions for their products, DRM coding to make the use of such items labor intensive, or impossible in some cases.
 
JohnH
Seeker, not to continue the digression but why is art history not art history. Who cares who likes what. I mean a level of understanding of what critics thought at the time (although lets be honest much of art predates formal critics) is part of it but is not the historical progression of art, art history.

If anyone cares San Francisco has some of the most lame public art of any place I have ever been. I offer, near AT&T park.

http://usa.amateu...ily-photo/
 
seeker
John - A big part of the problem is that so much of modern art is about concept rather than what is actually on the canvas. Artists like Pollock, Rothko, Still et al put out pieces that are purely abstract and whose meaning is often really unknown. Often meaning is ascribed that has little or nothing to do with the actual work.

Artists often play into this, letting a critic define the work because the artist didn't really have a concept in mind. The result is that more and more art historians end up picking up what some critic rightly or wrongly read into the work instead of being able to make any really objective observation.

When Marcel Duchamp took a urinal and hung it upside down in an art gallery part of what he was saying was that often all the meaning being ascribed to pieces of art are purely imaginative pomposity.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
If I may address the original topic, it's too bad that "music was a huge part of people's lives...", as T_E stated (emphasis mine). For someone like me who has played professionally for 45 years, that is a crushing concept.

Another point I would like to make is that, in many cases, the other selections on a CD turn out to be better than the single which caused one to buy it. Fifty years ago, the single often was the only listenable thing on a record album, the rest being rather poor filler, but that's usually not the case since. One can't fairly judge a performer on the basis of one song.

I realize I am biased, but I hate to see downloads take over. I think that CD sales actually went up last year for the first time in several years, so it's not over for the ol' CD yet.
 
seeker
Funny thing, personally I usually care less for the singles. I tend to like longer pieces of music.

I don't think music plays less a part in people's lives. Music is so ubiquitous that it may be taken more for granted but it is still very much there. The fact that almost everyone has some portable device or, in many cases multiple devices, that play music suggests musics continuing importance.

A question for you though catman. What do you think of the ability marginal groups have these days to get exposure for their music on the internet? Personally I tend to think you find more innovation and creativity in music on YouTube than you can get from music industry releases.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
Funny, when you referred to "marginal groups" I thought of groups which were only marginal in terms of musical ability.

It would stand to reason that there might be more "innovation and creativity" in groups on YouTube than in industry releases, since the latter try to repeat previous successes using similar formulas. The YouTube groups, not being concerned with the bottom line, can be as off the wall as they want. However, not many of them achieve commercial success, which after all is the goal of the music industry. I've been in groups which got lots of exposure but never made much (if any) money.

It's the age-old conundrum: Make a living or be unrestrictedly creative? I love playing jazz, but there isn't much of a chance to make a living doing so unless all the planets line up just so. My dad was an advertising artist and griped about it on occasion, but it kept the wolf from the door.
 
seeker
Ha, how about 'groups with marginal exposure'.

I think you are right, creativity almost always ends up taking a back seat to paying the bills. What makes this era of music exciting, IMO, is that making a YouTube video is so inexpensive that it encourages creativity.

The thing that made the 60's and 70's so successful was that, for a little while, record executives lost some of their control. Groups like the Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd etc had the freedom to do anything they wanted. I think this era has that sort of potential.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
This era does have that sort of potential, with the difference that the Beatles, Stone and Floyd made lots of money while the YouTube groups most likely won't.

The mid 60s to early 70s are my favorite period in pop music for the very reason you cited. I have obtained quite a few recordings from that period from eBay, obscure ones that I either thought I would never find or that I had never heard before. Great stuff!
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
seeker
I think that a lot of these YouTube groups are getting attention from record companies. The biggest factor is always consistency. Any group that can consistently put up videos that generate a lot of buzz will make money.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Cynic
(Re: art history; to be honest, I was mainly taking a shot at Kowboy while simultaneously expressing my displeasure after being told for a month about what a wonderful man Paul Gauguin was for a family-abandoning, bad-tempered, abusive pedophile/rapist exploitationist. But the fact that I have to check my honesty and integrity at the door to excel in the writing/analysis portion of the class rankles too.)


As for the music industry, I'm still unconvinced. I have (and am motivated by) reservations and question the lack of hard numbers for what amount of piracy is actually going on. Those numbers are probably difficult to impossible to come by, but that does not in any way imply that they do not exist. Perhaps we can get a sense of them by their "gravitational effects"?


First off, I do not believe that the dimension of "ease" and its effects can be dismissed easily, let alone outright ignored. An analogy. The bulk of the American obesity problem comes down to two entwined issues: tasty food, readily available. Sure, there are cultural, genetic, and even epigenetic aspects, but those aspects were never significant on the kind of scale we're witnessing until food became more tasty and before it became so abundant and easy to access at any given moment. Experiments in rats that parallel observations across virtually all mammals show that a rat given its chow ad lib (that is, as much as they want as often as they want it) will maintain a healthy weight and eat the same amount of chow every day. If you alter the chow to make it less tasty, they will eat less and thus maintain a lower weight. If you alter the chow to make it more tasty, they will eat more of it and maintain a higher weight. Similarly, if you make the chow more difficult to obtain, they will eat less and maintain a lower weight. Thus, if you feed your rats frosted cupcakes, they will get HUGE unless you also make those cupcakes difficult enough to obtain that they put less effort into it. If America would commit to making its food taste worse and to making it more difficult to obtain than walking to the pantry and popping open a bag or can, this epidemic would vanish. That, of course, won't happen because it's a recipe for corporate suicide and companies don't systematically and persistently alter their strategies in ways that make them suffer without some compulsion.


To relate this to music, I think it's fair to say that people who listen to it find it to be tasty, and not just tasty, but cupcake tasty. There exists such an incredible diversity of music out there that anyone who claims that nothing appeals to them either just doesn't like music that much or isn't looking beyond whatever they can tune in on FM. But no matter, because by and large what people like is what they've been exposed to and they've been exposed to more than ever before, not just because of diversification and continual bifurcation as music evolves, but because unlike previous ages, the old stuff isn't going away anymore, but just gets snowballed in with whatever's new.

It's also fair to say that music is increasingly available and easy to access. Time was you needed to go out to see someone perform live or have an instrument in your house (and live with someone who can play it). Then there were record players and records, both of which were expensive and couldn't be easily copied. Then radio, which couldn't be recorded. Then tape, which allowed people to record things, but it wasn't that good. But it did allow enthusiasts to preserve their records by putting them on reel to reel. And hey, why risk your record by lending it to a buddy when he could bring his own tape and you can just record it twice and let him keep one? So then we get 8-track, which couldn't be copied any more easily than records. Then cassettes, which could. Then CDs, which could also, if you wanted tape, which you probably didn't by that point, except to support your existing equipment that couldn't play CDs. Then recordable CDs. Then came MP3s on hard-drives. Then Napster! Then solid-state portables which are absolutely ubiquitous now.

So music has gotten tastier, if not because any given example of it is necessarily better but because there is enough variety that there is something out there for everyone. And music has gotten almost ridiculously easy to "acquire." Not only do we have the radio, but through our computers we can listen to nearly every station out there, not just the ones in local reception range. We have sites like Pandora that deliver stuff based on what we like. We have MusicMatch and like like on cable, Fios, and satellite. There's scarcely even a good reason to buy music anymore, especially if you begin to suspect that sequestering yourself off from the feed by listening to your albums makes you suspect that you're missing out on discovering something new and unexpected that Pandora might have served up -- an experience rarely had except over great time by the radio.

But if you want to buy music, you're no longer limited to what the store happens to have. If it exists, it can be found on the internet. And you don't need to by a whole album to get that song you really want (which is, IMO, ultimately the consumer's loss). There's iTunes and the like. And these forms persist largely because many mobile devices cannot stream yet.

This has been, as we've seen, devastating to the music industry. But why? Why on Earth would they do this to themselves? The nature of these format changes, along with the history of format changes in general, points to some of the decline in sales. Early radio left a lot to be desired and albums were better. With that kind of favoring, people started collections and the culture of collecting music grew. Then the format changed and those collectors had to re-purchase their music in the new format and they, along with the generation they spawned, collected the new format. Then the format changed again. This time they didn't necessarily have to buy it again -- they could copy it if they already owned it (legal or not, that's fair IMO) and those who lacked the will or expertise to do that felt burned by the idea of collecting while at the same time raising a new generation who didn't collect while at the same time coming up in an environment where the album didn't look so good in light of newer alternatives, alternatives that wouldn't exist if the music industry wasn't certain that failure to embrace newer technology wouldn't result in those same losses to piracy.

When I was a kid, I sometimes I'd copy a friend's cassette. It was easy to do, but I'd have to borrow it, which presented a possibility that I'd be told no because they'd be without their cassette. I'd also have to buy a blank tape, which represented a cost as well. And for all that, the copy would be inferior. Later, when CDs became popular, I'd have all those problems plus the copy would be far, far more inferior unless I'd invested in an expensive copier and expensive writable CDs that were also unlikely to actually play most players. Then came Napster. I, personally, saw the potential of that and drew an ethical line in the sand and refused to copy anything thereafter. But at the time I was literally surrounded by people who thought I was some kind of nut for doing so. In my own relatively short lifetime seen copying a single song go from an arduous, costly, time-consuming chore only to get crappy results go to copying an entire library of music with perfect fidelity using media and equipment everyone already has happen as easily as moving a single file from one place to another, taking little time and happening all by itself once initiated.

It has been argued that only a minority of people pirate music, an insignificant few that would barely dent the music industry. But Napster was HUGE. It was wildly popular. It made its founder billions. It was inevitable, sure. But does that sound like an "insignificant few" to anyone here? The specter of Napster led an industry to take steps that ensured that it would suffer greatly and lose massive percentages in sales. It wasn't some irrational fear on their part. They knew that stealing had become so easy -- as so wonderfully demonstrated not only by the existence but by the popularity of Napster -- that they had no choice but to embrace the approach and hope that people would still pony up some money for it.

Why? Because music is tasty and readily available. If you think America has an obesity problem now, imagine if food could be illegally copied with the click of a mouse for free. The quantity of food consumed would explode and the industry that produces food would implode. Which is what has happened to the music industry. Apple built its comeback on the iPod while the industry that enabled that comeback suffered rather than gained. Coincidence? The music industry has, out of fear, shot itself in both feet. And from what I fear, they're not reacting to anything "real". I have my reservations about that.
 
seeker
Cynic - They used to make 8-track recorders, cassettes were just smaller.

The fact is that ease of access is a two edged sword. Pirated music doesn't come with liner notes, cover art etc. In the days when people collected albums people actually sometimes bought albums just because of the cover art. Even now there are CD's and DVD's that feature a lot of extras than you simply can't get with a pirate copy.

With every new advance in technology, dating back to reel-to-reel tape machines, there has been a notion that the recording industry would die. When I was a teenager FM stations used to play whole albums, usually the day the album debuted, and would actually announce when to start your tape recorder. I knew kids in college with extensive libraries of high quality recordings that were all pirated. Even now you could simply record cd's off the radio, it isn't even as difficult as downloading.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Cynic
seeker wrote:They used to make 8-track recorders, cassettes were just smaller.


I think the fact that I've never once seen one of those devices in 38 years says something about their prevalence and popularity at the time they were relevant. It suggests I'm too young, perhaps, but I used to listen to George Clinton and Parliament on my 8-track stereo and The Doors on my dad's reel-to-real, which was recorded from his LA Woman record. I've watched movies on Betamax. But I don't recall seeing an 8-track recorder, even in a movie. And my point in that is, such equipment doesn't even remotely compare to what is available today. Its impact was probably nil. The number of full albums whizzing around on bittorrents every day in this country alone probably well exceeds the total number of those units ever produced times ten.


seeker wrote:
The fact is that ease of access is a two edged sword. Pirated music doesn't come with liner notes, cover art etc. In the days when people collected albums people actually sometimes bought albums just because of the cover art. Even now there are CD's and DVD's that feature a lot of extras than you simply can't get with a pirate copy.



This has always been true, and is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The main attraction has always been the music and as the ease, fidelity, cost-savings, and convenience of pirating have increased, the drawbacks you mention have decreased. Album art and liner notes have reduced in size, quality, and is often absent altogether as companies increasingly forgo the cost of producing, printing, and shipping it. Only the big names get it, really. And that content is increasingly digital, which means it is increasingly easy to get a perfectly acceptable copy of it by pirating too.

But really, most people don't care. At all. If they want the lyrics, they can Google them. If they want the art, they can Google that. If they want a closer connection to the band, they can hit their website. The new generations of CD collectors keep them in CaseLogic style sleeve page books and chuck the plastic and are actually annoyed with excessive extra material. Someone living out of their Droid phone doesn't care for having to dedicate an entire wall to mounts of plastic and cardboard that they'll never bother to dust, let alone look at.

And my point here is, if piracy is a two-edged sword, one of those edges is getting awfully blunt.


seeker wrote:
With every new advance in technology, dating back to reel-to-reel tape machines, there has been a notion that the recording industry would die. When I was a teenager FM stations used to play whole albums, usually the day the album debuted, and would actually announce when to start your tape recorder. I knew kids in college with extensive libraries of high quality recordings that were all pirated. Even now you could simply record cd's off the radio, it isn't even as difficult as downloading.



And now that industry is 50% of what it was a decade ago. The sky has fallen; the wolf is sated. There are plenty of other factors responsible for that number, sure. I read that analysis and it had many good points, especially about the lack of need to replace the CDs this format change. But the reason it isn't necessary has everything to do with how friggin' easy it is to rip a CD and distribute it to where ever you want it. Putting it on your iPod is as simple as putting on someone else's iPod. It's waaaay more easy to download than to record an equivalent quality radio recording, and I believe many kids today would cock their head sideways at this point and seriously as you what a "radio" is and why they would want one. Half of the ones that know probably assume that the songs are somehow streamed and reassembled in the radio, which they figure works on some form of ancient analog wi-fi system.


Seriously -- don't underestimate this. I routinely find myself interacting with real, live younger people on campus and I've learned not to discuss music with them (makes me feel old anyway) because a statement like "I really like that new song by The Black Keys and have been thinking about picking that album up" more often than not results in the actual album, if not a bundle if several, knocking on the door of my machine during that very conversation in real time in the form of bittorrent access link or a Bluetooth file transfer request. Which I then feel compelled to thank them profusely for and then silently deleting because if discussing my favorite Rush albums makes me feel old, explaining my ethical concerned about pirating music makes me feel even older.


Maybe the music industry has been doomsaying for a long time, but when they got uptight about Napster, a lot of people might have dismissed their concerned, but I guarantee you, Sean Parker did not.
 
Theory_Execution
Then the problem you are expressing over piracy is a culture thing.

People are fat because they eat to much for the exercise they put in. Yes there are more food choices, and yes the ease of access is higher, but they are not to blame - the blame lies at the chubby toes of those over eating.

So, to draw from this food analogy and approach is as does the music industry, we should;

- stock our stores with only the most recent of food inventions (no wheat, rice, bread, cheese, butter etc)
- box them in such a way that only a certain type of person can buy them, say only those with an American accent can eat food-stuff-1, and the guy with the British accent has to buy food-stuff-2?
- Develop a means by which a pizza can only be cooked in a certain brand of oven

Theft of music is a problem of culture in general, we should not punish the end user because of the deeds of a few.

In the UK, the government are looking to put a minimum unit price on alcohol, which means the price of all alcohol will increase - all because our culture is so messed up people drink in excess and hurt themselves. We have a drinking age of 18 in the UK.

In Germany, they have a drinking age of 16, and no where near the trouble the UK have with alcohol - not because they have another tax on the top of it, but because they have a responsible culture.

It's odd to look out at the world, and see how wonderful Germany and Japan have come after losing WW2, yet the winners look so fucked up.
 
seeker

Cynic wrote:

Seriously -- don't underestimate this. I routinely find myself interacting with real, live younger people on campus and I've learned not to discuss music with them (makes me feel old anyway) because a statement like "I really like that new song by The Black Keys and have been thinking about picking that album up" more often than not results in the actual album, if not a bundle if several, knocking on the door of my machine during that very conversation in real time in the form of bittorrent access link or a Bluetooth file transfer request. Which I then feel compelled to thank them profusely for and then silently deleting because if discussing my favorite Rush albums makes me feel old, explaining my ethical concerned about pirating music makes me feel even older.


Maybe the music industry has been doomsaying for a long time, but when they got uptight about Napster, a lot of people might have dismissed their concerned, but I guarantee you, Sean Parker did not.


Interesting you use Napster as an example. Napster was forced early on to pay royalties and still does. I know you meant it as an example of a free download site but it illustrates my point equally well. Napster, Itunes and a host of other sites that sell music legally are doing more than just thriving.

I don't dispute that there is a lot of piracy but let's have some perspective here. There is a lot of crime in general and the US has the lead in putting people in jail. We have adopted a war on drugs that completely distorts our legal system. On top of that we have a litany of white collar crime, corporate piracy if you will, that goes largely unpunished. Should we hold the people who download music and movies more responsible than people whose crimes literally hurt millions of people?

I don't believe that you stop crime effectively by going after petty criminals. When crime is legal above a certain economic threshold I think that just sends a message, go big or go to jail. A relatively poor college student who downloads a movie is only doing what he sees happening at the very top of our economy, grabbing whatever he can get away with. If we are going to say that is wrong and enforce that statement as law then we should be going more strongly after the most egregious abusers of that principal.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
seeker
Theory_Execution wrote:

Then the problem you are expressing over piracy is a culture thing.

People are fat because they eat to much for the exercise they put in. Yes there are more food choices, and yes the ease of access is higher, but they are not to blame - the blame lies at the chubby toes of those over eating.

So, to draw from this food analogy and approach is as does the music industry, we should;

- stock our stores with only the most recent of food inventions (no wheat, rice, bread, cheese, butter etc)
- box them in such a way that only a certain type of person can buy them, say only those with an American accent can eat food-stuff-1, and the guy with the British accent has to buy food-stuff-2?
- Develop a means by which a pizza can only be cooked in a certain brand of oven

Theft of music is a problem of culture in general, we should not punish the end user because of the deeds of a few.

In the UK, the government are looking to put a minimum unit price on alcohol, which means the price of all alcohol will increase - all because our culture is so messed up people drink in excess and hurt themselves. We have a drinking age of 18 in the UK.

In Germany, they have a drinking age of 16, and no where near the trouble the UK have with alcohol - not because they have another tax on the top of it, but because they have a responsible culture.

It's odd to look out at the world, and see how wonderful Germany and Japan have come after losing WW2, yet the winners look so fucked up.


A very strong point TE.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
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