Just yesterday we mentioned an editorial in Billboard (of all places – very significant as the industry bible) by a top entertainment lawyer telling the RIAA to give up the campaign against file sharing and join the 21st century. Todd Rundgren puts it even more strongly in the Hollywood Reporter:
- Music is a sacrament. This has been true for thousands of years of human history, save the last 100 or so. I’m sure it was not Edison’s purpose to debase such an important aspect of our collective liturgy, but what would one expect when something that was once ephemeral and could only be experienced at the behest of other humans is reduced to a commodity on a shelf.
….The plain reality is that, except for a few notable aberrations, musicians will always be more appreciated, certainly in a financial sense, by live audiences than by labels and the listeners they purport to represent. The seemingly quaint idea that recordings were promotion for great performers is no less true today. Ask Phish.
Ask also whether, as a musician, you ever believed the RIAA was actively protecting your interests until they got into a fight with their own customers and started using your name, your so-called well-being, as justification. And when the customers became skeptical they became the enemy. And to follow the RIAA’s logic, customers are therefore the enemies of musicians. Let us ignore the fact that if you ever got compensated for your contribution, it would have been because your manager and lawyer (and many before) forced the labels to recognize your labor in financial terms.
The reason why the RIAA comes off as a gang of ignorant thugs is because, well, how do I put this — they are. I came into this business in an age of entrepreneurial integrity. The legends of the golden age of recorded music were still at the helm of most labels — the Ertegun’s, the Ostins, the Alperts and Mosses by the dozens. Now we have four monolithic (in every sense of the word) entities and a front organization that crows about the fact that they have solved their problems by leaning on a 12-year-old. Thank God that mystical fascination with the world of music has been stubbed out — hopefully everyone will get the message and get over the idea that the musician actually meant for you to hear this.
….This stink is about a bunch of dumb-asses blaming the public for doing what the labels could have — and should have — done 10 years ago. I know because I told them so, each and every one individually and relentlessly: Put the music on a server so you can deliver on-demand services to people’s homes. Seems so stupidly simple now.
….It’s time to let the monolith of commoditized music collapse like the Berlin Wall. Musicians can make records if they feel like it, or not. Wide open pipes are ready to transport us, mainstream and fringe alike, into the ears of an eager audience who appreciates us and is more than willing to financially support us. Get out of the way if you can’t lend a hand because … you know the rest by heart.