About intellectual property and other things

I came across a wonderful quote about intellectual property. I am not sure I agree with it myself but wanted to share it. It is from Carsie Blanton’s blog post “New Rules for the Music Business” and it goes like this:

“Intellectual property” is an absurd concept that only a society of clueless, museless marketers could possibly conceive of. It’s an idea that serves markets, cripples muses, and is willfully ignorant of all of human history.

We are stealing from one another constantly and shamelessly, and that’s a blessed and beautiful thing. Every folk song is a mashup of all previous folk songs. Every film stands on the shoulders of all other films. Every sentence, poem and novel exists only for the creative gumption of all previous speakers of language, which is itself a collaborative invention of the entire human race. The whole history of human invention is characterized by a kind of joyful, infinite plagiarism.

Ideas are not commodities. They are made to be shared, not owned.

That said, I do get the point. If somebody covered one of my songs and got it on the radio and made millions and didn’t pay me, I’d sue the bajeezus out of the motherfucker. If you’re going to turn my song into a commodity, I expect to paid as though it’s a commodity (even though deep in my heart, I know it’s not).

BUT, if somebody covered one of my songs and put it on youtube, or wrote a song that was an homage to one of mine, or burned one of my CDs and gave it to a friend, or used a song of mine in their broke-ass indie film, I’d high five them. Why? Because there is a big difference between sharing someone else’s work and profiting off of someone else’s work.

And it’s time for all of us to get real, real comfortable with the former.

http://blog.carsieblanton.com

What I like about this is that it straddles both my impulse that ideas are not commodities and that everything I create is built upon the shoulders of those who came before. Or as I like to say “Ideas are cheap”. But on the other hand, if you figure out that you can make money from my creations then there is a basis in fairness that I get some of the benefit of it. Schizophrenic, I know, but it captures it nicely.

Worth reading: Queen’s Tragic Rhapsody

This is worth looking at: It was an utterly unexpected rebirth. from the moment Freddie Mercury and the other members of Queen – guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon – took the stage at London’s Wembley Stadium, on July 13th, 1985, at the historic Live Aid concert, the group captured the day. Here’s the full article.

The Cloud is Watching You

It’s obvious if you think about it, but this article drives some points home. If you use some kind of web service to read, listen, watch, charge, use, borrow or share stuff, that company not only knows what you’ve (read, listened to, etc.) They also know much more specifically how you did so: Did you stick with it to the end, did you do it from a particular place, at a particular time? Did you do it in one sitting or over a day or a week or a month?

If you then combine such observation across a farily large group of peope you can learn amazing things. Like how many people finish your book, or how far through it they get before abandoning it. Do they listen to the whole song? At what episode of a series do people abandon it? A little scary as the ‘art’ we ‘consume’ gradually morphs into the ‘art’ we ‘like’.

Not only will be be offered to buy new products that we are likely to buy, but the products themselves will be designed in a way that we will like them. Or the art will be created in such a way that we will want to experience it. 

Good or bad?

As New Services Track Habits, the E-Books Are Reading You – NYTimes.com:

Scribd is just beginning to analyze the data from its subscribers. Some general insights: The longer a mystery novel is, the more likely readers are to jump to the end to see who done it. People are more likely to finish biographies than business titles, but a chapter of a yoga book is all they need. They speed through romances faster than religious titles, and erotica fastest of all.

 

Fantastic Billy Joel Interview

If you are, or ever were, a Billy Joel Fan you will really like this interview. Fascinating to read what seem to be the reasonably honest thoughts and feelings of a Rock Star!

Billy Joel on Not Working and Not Giving Up Drinking – NYTimes.com:

So he doesn’t write anymore, not pop songs anyway. Instead he goes about his relatively ordinary life in plain sight in a cedar shake house in the middle of Sag Harbor village. He has a few of his vintage motorcycles in the garage, and his boat slip is within walking distance. He is seemingly never alone, spending his time in the company of his two pugs or his live-in girlfriend of three years, Alexis Roderick, a former Morgan Stanley risk officer (who he probably wishes had been alongside him in the 1970s to assess his first record deal). What he lacks in output, he more than makes up for in opinions — about his legacy, his mistakes, a rock-star life lived hard and the heroes and villains he met along the way. If the new music of many of his contemporaries is any measure, prolificness is an overrated quality. Once a pop genius, always a pop genius. We ought to know by now.

 

Quote about improvisation (from David Byrne’s new book)

I picked up David Byrne’s new book: How Music Works while waiting around in a bookstore. I flipped it to this page with this quote which I thought was quite cool. If I remember he was quoting something else. Anyway, I wonder how this general idea can be adapted to other forms of improvisation, like designing software products or teaching. I am thinking. Do you have an idea?

IMG 1113  2013 04 22 at 18 41 15

What I want to see in Spotify

As you know, I am a big big fan of Spotify. Lately I’ve been playing with the Last.FM integration. It’s a handy way for me to see what new music or artists I might like to listen to. I’ve discovered plenty of new music that way, it’s great.

What I would like is to be able to ask Spotify (or Last.FM) for a ‘radio’ station which plays music that I might like to hear. This feature exists but it doesn’t suit me because it would jump from a raucous rock piece to a quiet jazz piece to a strange folk piece. Generally I play music based on a general mood I am in or want. Quiet Jazz in the morning and upbeat stuff (load) when I am washing dishes. You get the idea.

If you work for Spotify, what do you think?

Designing a game soundtrack – kind of like we first got to pick the fonts in our documents

Can you compose crappy music? I had a field day today ‘designing’ a bit of music for my “Game Of Life” Android game. In the old old days, when computers for the first time allowed you to choose a font for your text. we all became bad amateur typographers and book designers. Do you remember the “ransom note” font in the original Macintosh (yeah, that was 1984?) It looked like this:

Ransom note

We loved it and everyone played with it. And there were lots of other ugly fonts but how did we love them.

Well now (for me) the same thing is happening with music. Yeah I am an amateur piano and guitar player but designing a sound track is not something I have a clue about. So I went digging through tools and toys and, more or less like those early days of customizable fonts, here’s what the tools allowed me to create for my video game.

I have to say it’s awful and makes me want to bash my head in but, for your listening pleasure:

GOLsoundtrack.mp3

Rhapsody vs. iTunes

I think I might be entering a new phase in my music listening. I listen to a ton of music, on my iPhone, on my computer, in my car, all the time. And up to now it’s always been downloaded (purchased) music that I organize manually within iTunes.  From time to time I’ve had subscriptions to eMusic and similar services.

As a result I have a huge number of tracks on my computer and on my iPhone. And as my music taste develops, and I discover new artists and composers, lots of those tracks are listened to rarely.

The alternative services like Rhapsody, which has been around for a while. But I didn’t like the idea of paying $10 per month to ‘rent’ music to listen to. Without owning it I would ‘lose’ the music if I ever cancelled the subscription. I would be tied to this $10 subscription forever.

Lately I’ve been trying the various streaming products like Rhapsody, Rdio, Mog, and various others. From those that I’ve tried I still like Rhapsody the best. Rhapsody is the only one that organizes music into genres so that I can browse through for example, 20th Century Classical. The other ones seem to be focused more on current popular music, which I don’t really listen to.

And I feel a sea-change coming in my own listening. I am really liking Rhapsody. I am playing more variety. Yes, even among my 10,000 or so tracks on my disk I was finding myself repeating the stuff I liked best. With Rhapsody I can go spelunking through a category I don’t know that well (e.g. Jazz Blues) and discover new music. I can have a playlist playing all afternoon of music that I like that I never heard before.

And who cares about ‘owning’ a track anyway?

Subscribe to Pandora!

I’ve known about Pandora for ages, and the last month or so have been using it again, a lot. It’s quite amazing: constant, free, music. Based on your interests.

How does it work? Well just go to Pandora, set up a free account, and indicate, for example, an artist or style you like. It begins playing songs, one after another which people who’ve liked what you like have also liked. You hear a song or artist you don’t know, indicate with a thumb up or down how you like it. That’s it.

I have discovered artists I didn’t know, rediscovered some that I knew, or music that I loved and had not heard before. All for free.

One might ask, in a favorite theme of mine, how do they survive? Here is Pandora one of the most popular sites and applications on the web and on iPhones, giving it all away. And the artists, how are they surviving? It’s a mystery isn’t it.

Well not so much of a mystery. Apparently Pandora came close to having to shut itself down. No money:

Founder Tim Westergren has stated that the service is approaching a “pull-the-plug kind of decision” for the service. Why is this happening? Last year, web radio giants were hit with outrageously ridiculous fees by a federal panel for every song that would be played on their stations. This caused a lot of services to either shutdown, or go through what Pandora has been experiencing for the past year. In doing so, it seems the financial problems the music industry has set out to create in order to win the constant battle between rights, piracy, and copyrighted music, are working. (from Read Write Web)

I just did what I knew I should do.

I signed up for an annual subscription.

Yes it cost $36, not that cheap. About what perhaps you might contribute to a public radio station.

We can’t expect that valuable stuff (newspapers? music? software?) continue to be created by passionate talented people without the prospect of being able get paid for it.