Meta Avangelism : Why P2P is essential to artists

According to industry sources: Only 3% of artists signed to a major label pre-napster made over $600 a year.

Only 3% of artists signed to a major label made over $600 a year.

Dwell on that for a bit. That’s 3% of the lucky .001% who managed to get a deal.

The RIAA hand-wrings about “saving the artists”. That’s their track record. Go make a cup of coffee. Think about it.

These are the people who want to cripple the internet.

The system’s set up so almost nobody gets paid

The old model means that artists have to beg for permission to do anything, every step of the way – this is played out in the grotesque accidental parody on the “talent quest” shows that are played by the dying TV industry every single night. American Idol. America’s Got Talent…

…emotionally damaged “models” singing other people’s songs, pushed to the point of emotional/psychological collapse. If that doesn’t perfectly describe the legacy-music-industry, I don’t know what does.

3% of .001% get paid. This is the industry that’s trying to cripple the internet.

I can remember a Sonic Youth interview where they said they had an album of radio-ready songs. The optimism was tragic… pathetic. There was no way they were going to get on the radio. It simply wasn’t going to happen.

I have seen the best talent of my generation wasted and marginalised because they couldn’t get on the radio.

That video above was some guys from Scotland… friends of mine managed by my great friend Rich,


…and every time they brought out a record, he’d sit around nervously for a couple of weeks waiting to see if it was going to get radio play… they never did. It was fucking heartbreaking to watch.

This is the old model… the legacy industries. The whole thing is predicated on the “tastes” and the bribability of self-appointed gate-keepers, resulting in a structure where 3% of those .001% that “succeed” make enough money to live.

It’s all based on a series of scarcities that were once structural, but are now artificial. We no longer need them.

So. Artists now have 2 choices –

1) go via the old industry in which they’re “owned” and have a very tiny chance of being paid

2) go via the internet… via Peer to Peer recommendation by having videos on youtube, tracks that they encourage people to share. Probably won’t get paid much (artists never do (chart of methods here)), but at least it’s your show. At least when the day comes to license your track to some advertising company, YOU get the money.

#2 is the new radio. This is how people find out about things now.

Here’s that song from the top again

You’d never have heard it without a person to person network. Because it didn’t get on the radio.

If you didn’t know them from back in the day, and the internet wasn’t here, you’d never have heard it at all. It would be out of print… dead.

Oh – and that’s a fan video by the way. That’s an advert that someone has made for the for free because they love them.

Now, the golumn-oid legacy industries want to keep tight control over everything – to prevent, to restrict… they will often stop their own artists trying to be alive in the network, for example:

Bat For Lashes got their own video pulled from their blog, MGMT are thwarted at every turn, The Treadmill Guys left EMI because EMI wouldn’t let them participate on youtube, and Sony, have blocked embedding of the original of the video above, because they’re idiots, who don’t understand the medium, and I bet half the people that work for Sony spend their lives in a state of frustration, KNOWING how anachronistic and meaningless their own company is.

Which places me in a bit of a quandary because… my new fav band

They’re great, I’d like to support them but I can’t because it says “sony music”.

I am digital couch-hezbollah. I am morally bound to:

1) support independent artists
2) pirate / reclaim legacy-industry culture – and do whatever it takes to destroy the old industry.

So this is my act of civil disobedience – which is what participating members in a democracy are morally bound to do when they become disenfranchised.

Unfortunately, I’m kindof stuck over what to do when I find an artist that’s signed to the evil-empire. What I am willing to pay is more than the price of a CD… but I’m not going to give it to fucking Sony.

Major labels aren’t music companies, they’re fucking banks.

And they’re lobbying risibly corrupt political systems to attack the ONLY means by which all but a tiny fraction of artists can be heard – to try to turn an abundant resource into a gate-keeper-controlled one. Controlled by them.

This should be a crime. There should be a word for it. A nasty one: “attempting to create fake scarcity”. It’s morally bankrupt, and culturally bankrupting.

Peer to Peer is the new radio. It’s where all the vitality is. Without it, your band won’t get heard. Without it you won’t hear the next thing you love.

We don’t need the major record companies… we don’t need the legacy industries – and if they’re going to try to damage the web, we should delete them.

2 Comments » for Meta Avangelism : Why P2P is essential to artists
  1. Andrew D says:

    Yes. Yes. And thrice, yes. I remember having this conversation about a decade ago and saying to a friend that the corporate megalabels would end up with the aging superstars like Elton and Bon Jovi, while the interesting and best new music would all be independently distributed online, with the artists making most of their money from gigs and selling their own T-shirts etc. Problem is, all the money-making tendrils of the music empire are still plugging the “get signed to get famous” bullshit, which Mr Albini deconstructed a good few years back ( if you’ve not read it – I’m sure you have). And poor, idiot children, still not knowing any better, put their heads into the lion’s mouth because they don’t believe that word-of-mouth can exist without MTV/T4/Radio 1 etc. I know what you mean about not wanting to shell out for major label CDs, even by bands you like. I still occasionally go into HMV in the city in which I live and it makes me feel quite ill. Stick to your guns my friend. They can’t keep the keys for much longer. Let’s just make sure we don’t end up turning into pigs who walk on their hind legs either. ;-)

  2. admin says:

    I’m always trying to find that Steve Albini article, and never can :)

    re: keeping the keys… hard to say. I’m not entirely convinced that the copyright-cartels don’t simply resemble a type of debt, that gets sold on to nastier and nastier collectors as its value decreases.

    Did you know that Blackwater are now selling their services to major corporations, including Monsanto, The Banks… and Disney?

    Incredibly dangerous. I think we basically need to see corporate power for what it is – a new type of baronial power. And take it down, by any means necessary.