Lowery: The blue-collar musician at the eye of the copyright storm

From The Register:

A few days after we linked to his long, exhaustive talk about the state of the music business, musician and songwriter David Lowery hit the headlines in the USA. In a blog post replying to NPR intern Emily White, Lowery summed up how the ‘don’t pay for music’ argument sounded to him:

“Networks: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!

Hardware: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!

Artists: 99.9 % lower middle class. Screw you, you greedy bastards!

Congratulations, your generation is the first generation in history to rebel by unsticking it to the man and instead sticking it to the weirdo freak musicians!”

The post, which attacks the cynicism of the tech industry and ‘Free Culture’ Movement, received millions of hits and enormous exposure.

I caught up with the Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven singer last week. In a follow-up, we’ll focus on where the industries can go next – file your questions below or by email here.

Were you surprised at the national exposure given to your post? Why did it ignite such a debate?
It’s less to do with my writing, than that there’s a vacuum for somebody to say that, essentially, if you’re a fan of musicians, then you should make sure they get paid.

I didn’t expect it to go so viral. It had less to do with me, and what I wrote, and more because I think your sorta Average Joe hasn’t really bought all the lines about “internet freedom”. The average Joe has not been convinced by those arguments. The tech blogosphere has just convinced people in the tech blogosphere.

So there was an opening for somebody to say something that was more commonsense.

The debate’s very old now – twelve years since Napster was at its peak. And if you asked me ten or twelve years ago that we’d be where we are now, I’d have said you’re crazy. We have services but the markets are sickly. Investment is disappearing and musicians are getting poorer.

Who this affects is the 99 per cent of musicians – the Middle Class of the business. It affects the top end, but it has affected us much more.

There’s a reluctance on the tech side to acknowledge that you can’t have a functioning market without some kind of property enforcement. And I’m reluctant myself, to be honest.
You need a rule of law, or otherwise you have a failed state. And in a lot of ways, the market place for songs and music and films does kinda resemble a failed state.

You want to appeal to people’s better nature
You have legitimate businesses trying to compete with illegitimate businesses and it’s made the market unhealthy. Really only the biggest players benefit – the richest, most powerful players benefit. Small stakeholders can’t really compete when the market’s like that.

Continue reading the rest of the story on The Register