Wednesday, 17 June 2009

When music flows like water

Discussions round copright often focus on how artists get paid for their work... People need to pay to reward their creativity - but the more I think about it the more conviced I am that that is not at all what people are being charged for.
To understand what I mean we need to start at the other end with how people are consuming music.

Imagine then you are sittng at home listening to a favourite piece of music - it is good! You like it. The artist (producer & songwriter) deserve to be paid! ...and of course, if it's a consistent favourite you might think they should get the same small sum every time you hear it?

But what have you actually paid?

Nothing? It's on the radio... or on internet radio, or a free streaming service..

Or maybe you are on a premium streaming service, or you downloaded it from a webstore, got it free on your streaming subscription - maybe you bought the CD? Or the tape, or the LP... Or the CD the tape and the LP?

In alll cases it's the same song... the musicianship was just as worthy of reward but what you actually paid varied hugely. ... But in none of the above cases did you pay for the song to be played -by which I mean, you are not charged for the number of times you listen to just this track. If I buy a CD for instance the cost is the same if I play it a thousand times, or if iit's junk and gathers dust on the top shelf..

The same music can be provided to you in a number of ways - including getting it free. So, whatever it is you are paying for it is not the music ~ it is available free. It is to all intents and purposes worthless. You are not paying for the music, and not paying to reward artist's creativity.

So what are you paying for? The answer simply is control. If it is free someone else decides what gets played. You don't buy the the right to listen to the music, you buy control over when the music gets played. Monopoly gives rights holders control, which they sell on to us, the consumers.

One of the curious corollaries to this Is that artists I like in fact lose out by not giving me control of what I stream. This comes from the fact that even when I get music free artists are paid, and quite often are paid based on the number of plays.... If I could control what gets played on a free streaming service the artists I think are good would get revenue instead of some other artist I didn't choose to llisten to. The best most creative artists would benefit by taking away that restriction of choice.

But that that's a by the by. The take away for today is that you never pay for music... But if I'm not paying for music why do we need copyright?

Perhaps that's why Piratpartiet are lobbying for copyright reform?

No comments: