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Music TopicToday’s band of the day is one that I’m pretty new to. I found
out about them by hearing them on WREK in the last few months. They
are Woozy Helmet from
Texas. I like the way they sound, “Not Real” being my favorite of the
ones I’ve heard so far. They have a lot of MP3s up on the site. The
Macromedia Flash shit is really annoying, but artistic sorts and
musicians seem to love it. Anyway, check it out and listen. If you go
to the “Recordings” page, there are actually more MP3s that aren’t
listed on the downloads page. They rawk, dood!

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Thus far, I haven’t written anything political or controversial in
this log. It’s all been pretty standard day to day stuff. In posts on
Dueling Modems I have been debating with a
few people the question of whether or not downloading of free files
(music via MP3, free books) hurts the livelihood of the creators. My
belief (just my belief – if we had facts we wouldn’t all be arguing)
is that they do not. Here is a post I made on that subject, slightly
edited to remove some of the personal remarks between myself and the
person I was responding to and make it more of a statement of my
philosophy. I was going to edit out every personal you/me type of
remark, but just pretend I am addressing all affected creators, and
they are the “you”. I’ll still be the “me.” Alle ist klar, kommisar?

No one has all the answers. We are still miles away from even having all
the questions. We are all fumbling around here. Please please please,
understand that doesn’t mean I want to see your livelihood
impaired. It is my gut feeling that in a world where less friction is
spent fighting free downloads, you would make more money. I’d rather
see all the money spent in fighting them (via the expense of DRM,
opportunity costs of sales not made, etc) go straight into your pocket.

I keep mentioning this stuff because some people are finding success in
making free downloads work for them. Janis Ian seems to have, the
musicians I know are having varying of degrees of success with it. I’m
not a wild-eyed “Intellectual property is theft” slashdotter and I’m not
advocating anyone doing anything without the permission of the rights
holder(s). However, I think loosening up might very well make y’all more
money. I don’t know this and cannot provide you with evidence for it,
but I feel it in my rheumatism. I also feel there are benefits that the
rights holder get that we have no models to describe or measure, an
“enthusiasm” value that increases when people have cheap or free access
to some of their work.

Here’s one example: I preordered
Aimee Mann’s new album
this week. Right
now, I can hear the entire thing for free via her website. Its in high
quality RealAudio files, but with about an hours worth of work a dork
like me could create my own audio CD that would have better audio
quality than a cassette copy of the CD. Why did I order the CD rather
than doing that? A variety of reasons, hard and soft, that include:

  • It cost $15 and 2 minutes to order it. The value of my time that it
    would have taken to burn an illicit copy far exceeds that cost

  • The CD includes a booklet with illustration by Seth, an artist I like
  • A bonus CD with unreleased tracks is included for those who preorder
    (also a reason for buying now rather than later)

  • I like Aimee Mann and want her to continue putting out albums, rather
    than quitting and going into advertising jingles

  • Burnt CDs are cheezy and I’d rather have the “real thing”
  • It would be a hassle and not be fun
  • I give her extra credit for the way she has stuck her middle finger
    out at the major labels and that’s worth some money to me

I believe that this great loss of money you are worried about is a
bugaboo to keep power in the hands of the same plutocrats who at best
don’t help writers much and at worst rob them blind for their entire
careers (and y’all have it good compared to the indentured servitude of
major label musicians.) I think you as a writer would be better off with
a system that would force publishers to be more efficient, to not have
sales forces claim “But I can’t sell a book about that”, with a market
place with lower friction. It is my belief that, ala Jack Valenti
fighting against VCRs in 1980, the world you are fearful of is one that
will be better for you and that will increase the market. I could be
wrong but dear god I hope I’m not.

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I forgot to do a band of the day yesterday. Oops. Looking back over
the last one I did, I used the word “amazing” three times in three
sentences. That might be a bit excessive, but Primus really gets to
me.

I set up a script that will automatically post my daily weblog entries
to Dueling Modems and
SFF-Net
. It already drew some comments, about evenly mixed. The
sad truth is that for the time being, I’ll be putting my efforts here
rather than composing posts. I already cut-and-pasted my daily
hows-it-going type posts between the two places, this just adds a
third to the mix.

A coworker sent me a link to a column
of advice on how to be a CEO from jail.
Funny stuff. My favorite
bit:

The FBI frequently confiscates ties, belts and shoelaces. So wear a shirt that looks good without a tie (a Nelson Mandela Madiba is good) and loafers without tassels (simple pumps for women). Men may want to consider Sans-a-belt adjusters on trousers: Jail usually means weight loss.

In my capacity as guy who generates e-mail from WREK, I get added
to a lot of publicity type lists. I got e-mail from jazz musician
Gunter Hampel and the
subject line was “Kein Thema”. I read it thinking he had an album or
project or something by that name, but it was an announcement of a
show at the Knitting
Factory
in New York City. Confused, I thought about it and
realized that is German for “No Subject”. Doh!