David Carr’s Article

“Free Music, at Least While It Lasts”

I’m sick of hearing the sky is falling. That the march to the future is leaving something valuable in its wake, something we will lament the passing of, as if the Internet has wiped out antibiotics and eyeglasses.

I don’t hear anybody talking about the printers, the people whose business was wiped out by desktop publishing. And now, HP itself is in trouble, its cash cow printer business has stalled. Bitch all you want about overpriced cartridges, the truth is almost no one prints anymore. When last did you? Are you lamenting the loss of those jobs at the plant in Idaho? As for paper companies, they’ve gone upscale, they’re making high end paper for personal notes, there was a whole story in the “Wall Street Journal”… But when it comes to music and books there’s this fiction that the art forms will be wiped out, that something will be lost that can never be replaced in this new world.

Boofuckinghoo. So you made a ton of money writing songs in the last century. Talk to lawyers, whose business has now been farmed out to Asia, yup, that’s where they do the big time legal research. As for corporations paying endless bills…no longer, they cap fees. And not only are applications down at law schools, the vaunted Thunderbird MBA program is in danger of going under.

So forget saving the whales, how about saving everybody’s gig.

Funny about America, everybody hates socialism until it comes to their job. They like free enterprise when they’re winning, a safety net when they’re not, kinda like the banks, HA!

So we’ve got Van Dyke Parks lamenting in the “Daily Beast” that songwriting no longer pays. Well it didn’t pay so much two hundred years ago. It may pay again in the future, maybe not. It’s not like there’s no way left to make bank in the music business. Everybody just bitches that someone moved their cheese.

This is the way it used to be… We listened to the radio. We bought very few albums, because we couldn’t afford many. And we ended up knowing the songs by heart. So we went to hear our favorites live. And their live compensation paled in comparison to their recording income.

And now it’s reversed, you’ve got to take out a mortgage to go to the show. But has this reduced ticket sales? NO! People keep complaining they can’t get GOOD tickets! And demand is so great that StubHub build a business on reselling tickets, at greater than face price!

But Napster was supposed to kill music. Eliminate the economic incentive and no one will make it anymore. Well, the oldsters have given up, in most cases anyway, but the youngsters didn’t get the memo. They keep uploading to YouTube and iTunes and Spotify, and I haven’t heard ANYBODY lament that there’s not enough music. As for good music, people go where the cash is, and that’s pop. As for you album rock fans… Show me an album that should be heard by millions that has languished in the marketplace and I’ll show you a liar, you, who are completely full of shit.

Kind of like that canard that today’s youngsters have a short attention span. No, they’ve just got an incredible shit detector! They don’t want to sit through mediocre, they don’t even want to sit through good, they just want GREAT! Which is why music is now all about blockbusters… Believe you me Van Dyke Parks, write a hit and you’ll be rolling in dough. Ringo not only hasn’t had a hit in eons, most of his were written by somebody else. You used to make all that money because people had to buy the album to hear the one they wanted. So you lost your house and your swimming pool you said a cowrite with Ringo garner you, but the fans have been liberated! In other words, they don’t want your crap, your dross, your fluff. And this is a good thing for everybody but YOU!

It’s a brand new world. Things change. But there’s still a demand for art. Which might be delivered differently, with different income streams. And all this bitching… I never get forwarded David Carr or Van Dyke Parks’s articles by the hoi polloi, the regular people for those Greek-challenged, just the old, established acts and the wannabes. It’s an endless echo chamber. The public and the outliers invent the future while the oldster/Luddites can’t get over the past.

The past… When a spellchecker was an add-on you paid for, before it was integrated into Microsoft Word. Keep talking about that free economy David Carr, it’s been going on forever. That’s progress, more stuff for a cheaper price, welcome to the real world.

As for Google giving you so much stuff for free. IT’S NOT FREE! You’re paying by clicking on the ads, that’s why Google EXISTS!

But these artists live by their emotions, they can’t understand economic forces. And, once again, everybody wants to win and not suffer. Van Dyke Parks… Do you want to pay 3k for your flat screen? That’s what it might cost if manufactured in America. How about a couple of grand for your iPhone? No, everybody wants to reap, but no one wants to sow.

People go where the money is. Is that revolutionary?

So people have become tech developers.

But tech is more interesting than music. Yup, there I said it. Bring us a new Beatles, a new Bob Dylan, and we’ll all pay attention.

Instead we had to listen for years about how great the positively mediocre Conor Oberst was. And everybody knows “Yellow Submarine,” but most people don’t know any Beyonce songs and play them once and they never need to hear it again. And then we’ve got the savant known as Pharrell, who keeps turning out hit after hit, “Happy” the latest iteration that was so successful, people got into trouble for doing a tribute video in the Middle East. I don’t hear Pharrell bitching, like Van Dyke Parks, that he can’t make a buck. As for Van Dyke, have him play glockenspiel on Ringo’s All Starr Band tour. Hell, the guarantee is pretty high!

So what we’ve got here is intelligence inequality. People who didn’t go to college, who don’t know much about economics, never mind money, who can’t stop complaining that they woke up and the world looked different.

But have people stopped eating, stopped going to the bathroom, stopped having sex?

No, the truth is more people are listening to more music than ever before. The fact that they may not be listening to yours, that you can’t make enough money…did you ever think it was YOUR fault? That you refused to change, get with the new paradigm? It’s like Count Basie bitching they don’t play his music on Top Forty.

We don’t live in a free economy. We live in a changing economy. And the winners in music are incredibly profitable, they’re paid like sports stars or CEOs.

So if you look at your bank account and see a big fat zero, the problem isn’t the Internet or free, it’s YOU!

Get over yourself.

Enter the twenty first century.

Just because you could make it in the old one playing music, doesn’t mean you’re entitled to in the new. That’s like saying the aforementioned printer should still have his job. And flights should only be booked by travel agents. And you have to be rich to make a record. And while we’re at it, let’s bring back record stores.

There are losses in every revolution. But the gains far outweigh what falls by the wayside.

Get off your high horse and talk to the audience. Or a hit act. They’re both happy.

And you don’t like it. You think the world should spin for your benefit.

It doesn’t.

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  1. Pingback by David Carr’s Article Re: van Dyke Parks | 2014/06/15 at 01:22:56

    […] David Carr's Article Re: van Dyke Parks […]

  2. […] right sometimes, sometimes he’s wrong), has a different take, which you should readHERE. ¬†Lefsetz refers to an article by composer/musician Van Dyke Parks, which you should check […]

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