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  • Medium: Dissonant Intervals & Bittersweet Symphonies: Music’s Past, Present & Future

    by Neil Turkewitz

    And legendary guitarist, Marc Ribot, sent me something so on point and articulate that I include it in full, notwithstanding the fact that it could stand as an article by itself:

    “No one owes me or any other musician a living. But we and the businesses that pay us should have the same right as any other American: to earn our livings through a fair market, one based on the consent of the seller and the willingness of the buyer. As anyone Googling our work can see: that is not the case now. I’m not “anti-technology”: I’ve been running pro-tools and EmagicLogic since the early 90’s, and remember when my CompuServe address was a number. My latest release streams on Spotify, and I do roughly the same online marketing and distribution as other contemporary artists.

    But the oft repeated myth that bands can now produce recordings on “no budget” (and therefore somehow don’t need to get paid) is… bullshit.

    The computer itself, software, mics, mic-pre’s, compressors, A to D coverters, etc cost money. Composing, rehearsing, recording, overdubbing, mixing, editing, sequencing, mastering, designing, marketing, and promoting all take time. Farmers deduct what it costs to feed and house their animals during the time it takes to bring them to market. Surely, even those who don’t believe we deserve minimum wage should grant us the same economic consideration as a cow.

    I’ve personally witnessed the worst of both indie and major label behavior. In fact, I’ve participated in indie musicians’ collective action to fight record company rip-offs. But even the worst of them understood that not paying us for our work WAS a rip-off. Google et al are attempting to normalize the worst practices of the past: on a scale that Leonard Chess couldn’t even imagine.

    While record companies have certainly robbed many artists — and Artists of Color in particular — celebrating their collapse makes as much sense as celebrating a mass eviction because the building had cockroaches.

    If Silicon Valley apologists now claim we should pay for our record budgets through touring income: well exactly which new artists, who by definition must make a recording BEFORE touring, are likely to have $5–15 grand sitting around to self finance years of self recording and poorly paid promotional touring?

    Are we really SO besotted with our new streaming toys that we can’t recognize the institutionally racist consequences of what amounts to a new exclusionary entrance fee… (not to mention the less visible but equally destructive damage to music’s working class base)? Telling young musicians that they must fund their own recordings is the redlining of the new millennium. To the great extent that race and class are intertwined, it is racist. It’s unfair to talented working class kids of all races, and will create a homogenous culture of the privileged as surely as post-war red-lining created the lily white suburbs of the past.

    If all this was really “technological unemployment” due to “creative destruction,” then we could — and would have to — accept it. But these terms refer to improvements in the technologies of production replacing less efficient technologies. This is not what is going on.

    Musicians still make the music people listen to today, using technology roughly similar to what we used 20 years ago. Our music is producing more profit than ever: just not for us. This isn’t “disruptive innovation”, it is exploitation pure and simple, and it needs to stop.

    The simple fact is this: our budgets collapsed post Napster, and although the effects of streaming are uneven, they will not and cannot repair the damage done as long as major online corporations enjoy a special privilege exemption from the normal obligation of businesses to obey the law. Until the “Safe Harbors” are limited for corporations which fail to use the available technology to stop mass infringement on their premises, there will be no economic justice for working musicians.

    All the rest is hype.”

    Read full article here: MEDIUM