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Todd Joins the Anti-RIAA Chorus

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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.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    I support the sentiment, but what is the plan? Even if they were to create the greatest service in the world now that offered flat monthly fee pricing for song downloading, they can’t compete with the free of Kazaa. So Todd has shown his contempt for the RIAA. Ok, who hasn’t? What is the plan to go forward? I don’t have it and neither does Todd Rundgren as he plays the largest version of “I told you so” that I have ever seen. Not very productive is it?

  • Andy

    offer better quality. From what I’ve heard, mp3s on Kazzaa sound like shit. At least I hear a difference in quality.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    When I used to get mp3’s from there I used to find ones that were encoded at 192 kb and those are almost indistinguishable from CD’s. Sure occasionally someone would have only a partial version of a song, but I am not sure that competes with free.

    And why again should they have to compete with someone doing it illegally? I am not justifying lawsuits, but if they don’t get people off of the illegal sharing, what good are legal music downloading options that cost money?

  • http://www.makeyougohmm.com/ TDavid

    Craig I respectfully disagree. Most people do act legally and want to do the right thing or society itself would be in chaos.

    If there are enough legal, convenient venues to get the music without a bunch of stupid restrictions I think the filetrading will go back underground where it has been with IRC for long before Napster.

    I think the problem was that too many people foolishly believed that they couldn’t — or wouldn’t — get caught with this illegal activity on the computer because there is a false sense of anonimity on the internet. Or maybe they truly believed that what they were doing wasn’t theft, although that’s been a hard one for me to follow.

    Now that the RIAA has proved otherwise, despite most all us reasonable people thinking that they have gone way, way too far, perhaps the time has come to begin really fixing the problem. I think in some ways it has begun with the emerging of several legal venues for accessing and downloading music. Not perfect, no way, but it’s getting better.

    Napster comes out next week, pressplay is being re-released. There is a great opportunity for music fans to show the ignorant assholes at the RIAA that given the chance we aren’t crooks and really will do the right thing. Most of us will, anyway.

  • Eric Olsen

    TD, actually pressplay has be folded into the new Napster, but I agree with your thoughts on this. People WILL pay (using the bottled water analogy) for better service, reliability, branding, legality, etc as long they think the price is reasonable. That’s why I like the all you can model via a broadband fee or tax because it “feels” like free. But even short of that, people will pay if they think they are getting better value than what they can get for free. the free services suck: pop ups, spyware, unreliable labeling, illegality – this all adds up.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    the legality isn’t even relevant. they can shut down kazaa, etc…

    and some smart cs student with nothing better to do with come up with a new way to hide the information.

    this is a technology war that cannot be won by the industry.

    they either come up with a way to compete…or die.

  • http://www.blogbloke.com BB

    In my view (may it be forever humble) it all boils down to this: Some people are addicted to the smell of shrink-wrap in the morning and will always be die-hard conventional purchasers. On the other hand I keep asking myself this question. Why is the RIAA so reticent to join the modern world? The only conclusion that I have come up with is the brick and mortar merchandisers must be leaning on them to protect their turf. Perhaps it is their distribution empire it is so keen on protecting? Otherwise I see no logic in fighting progress (whatever that may be). Unfortunately for the RIAA it has no choice but to wake up and smell the roses. Online purchasing and downloading of music is going to happen and the sooner they get with the program the better it will be for all of us. It is time to use technology proactively rather than wielding it as a club.

  • Eric Olsen

    “wake up, smell the cat food, in your bank account”

  • http://www.blogbloke.com BB

    Meow

  • http://www.blogbloke.com BB

    …wake up and smell the java (scripts that is)