There’s nothing like an intern who covers the music business (NPR’s All Songs Considered) admitting she doesn’t buy music (I Never Owned Any Music To Begin With) to get the internet re-fired up about paying for stuff, business models and the survival of artists in the middle of the information revolution.
The arguments can be divided into two oversimplified camps. Those who think market forces should be left to decide the fate of artists and their income:
Musicians (and as a member of Gang of Four I include myself here) don’t automatically deserve to make a living. They are not a special subset of society that should be supported at all cost.
Like many, many people who have had their lives or businesses upended by the Internet, his nostalgia runs so deep he wants everything to be the way it used to be. Ain’t gonna happen.
And, those who think people should behave ethically or be forced to behave that way:
fairness for musicians is a problem that requires each of us to individually look at our own actions, values and choices and try to anticipate the consequences of our choices. I would suggest to you that, like so many other policies in our society, it is up to us individually to put pressure on our governments and private corporations to act ethically and fairly when it comes to artists rights.
This leads us to a similar argument in photography after MediaStorm announced a new pay per story business model (Why We Switched to a Pay Per Story Model) we have similar arguments in both camps:
Pay Per Story is not a silver bullet strategy. It’s not a self-contained, all encompassing business model that’s going to right all that’s wrong with the editorial sector.
“This is about [failed] business models, not morals,” says Mike Masnick of Techdirt, and I agree. [source]
– David Campbell
There’s a lot of talk in photoland how you can’t really charge money for this kind of multimedia, and anyway, it would be wrong to turn this into a moral issue. I actually don’t subscribe to that idea. It is a moral issue, because we are talking about the income of actual human beings here
Of course, the photo business is a bit different than the music business. But the basic, underlying problem is the same: Unless there is an increased willingness to pay for content online, the livelihoods of content creators are in danger. In the long run, this means that if this current situation does not change, a large fraction of the content currently online will simply disappear, and the web will become dominated by corporations that can afford to give away some crumbs for free.
– Joerg Colberg
There are many parallels that can be drawn between music and photography. In the past both benefitted from a high cost to create and distribute the work, which created a monopoly and allowed them to ignore market forces. The biggest problem is that consumers have been trained to expect these very expensive products at very little cost. So, while I agree that it’s nice to have market forces in play and the monopolies disappearing, the monopoly will continue if we don’t retrain consumers to pay artists for their work. The long tail and freemium mostly benefit corporations that can afford to let pennies add up to dollars.
If you want to live in a world with artists you have to support them. I think that attitude is slowly catching on.