the human price of change

Internet triumphalists often fail to understand the human price of change.

Eric Garland interviewed by Greg Sandoval at CNet:

These are tough lessons. By the way, I don’t want to sound
like the armchair pundit. You end up sounding not very empathetic. You
sound like some ass who says “This is how it’s going to be and if you
don’t like too bad.” I’m not trying to be dismissive. I’m not trying
to be glib about this. I understand the implication may well be
tens-of-thousands of jobs lost, billions of dollars pouring out of the
industry, shutterings, downsizings…I’m not trying to make light of
that. I’m just telling you that in the final accounting i think some
things we now know. Some of them are very unpopular even in concept
and some of them are very hard to incorporate into strategic thinking,
but that doesn’t make them any less avoidable or inevitable.

Which is to say: have a fucking heart. Just because the steam engine beat John Henry doesn’t mean John Henry got what he deserved.

9 thoughts on “the human price of change

  1. I don’t remember the part of John Henry where he sued dead grandma’s and planted root kits on PCs. Where he hired the mafia to enforce radio play hegemony. Where he rigged the Billboard sales charts and denied his own artists any chance of a decent living wage. Where his accounting practices were crooked and opaque and requires anybody who signs a contract to sue in order to get a single penny from him. At a 95% failure rate.

    Pardon me while I shudder at the thought of being called an ass, dismissive or glib by Hollywood.

  2. The labels have a constituency. They represent consensus among people who work in the recording industry, very much including all the artists who had no chance of a living wage because of the books being rigged.

    And how they’re reacting varies. Sony and WBR are both forward looking, EMI seems to trying to hurt anybody it can in its death throes, and Universal is really many different sub labels, each with their own strategy.

  3. yes, and I was a member of that constituency for over 10 years, and I have very close, personal friends who remain so. But it’s not from having a lack of a fucking heart that I hold them, each, responsible for working in a corrupt and morally bankrupt environment.

    And if by “forward looking” you mean waiting to figure out how to move that corruption onto a ‘net then I’m fine with them calling me an ass.

    The human price of change? How about the human price to no change?

  4. Holding them responsible for working in a corrupt and morally bankrupt environment isn’t fair. Pretty much all musicians have to take whatever sort of reward they can manage to get. Being willing to do whatever the hell that might take goes without saying.

  5. Eric Garland is not a struggling artist in LA, right? he’s a paid pundit ragging on other pundits for not being more sympathetic to the “plight of labels” (and his reward is making deals with them).

    If you want to talk about musicians that’s fine – if you sign 100% of your rights and artistic control away to a corporation with +95% chance that they will gleefully bury your career then it’s hard to be sympathetic when you rag on about how the Internet is blocking your path to success.

    My definition of having a fucking heart is doing everything you can to steer musicians away from the “reward” of winning Faust’s lottery.

  6. I’m with you Victor. What mystifies me is that despite the control being in the hands of labels (as it could only be), musicians still believe that copyright gives the musician control, and thus without the power of the label, those independent musicians are looking forward to getting that other 99% of control/revenue that the label had the power to assert/collect.

    I’ve been discussing this and related issues on – a new site representing a rapprochement between artists and their file-sharing fans to argue and arrive at non-label based prospects for artists in the digital age, vis a vis control and revenue.

  7. The people with a plight worth believing in are older musicians who have no remaining commercial work in their careers. Somebody with a hit in the 70s who is now retired… Somebody with a totally shitty career outside of the royalty checks for work done 20 years ago.

  8. And those musicians have no one to blame but the companies that own their recordings and publishing contracts for fighting the very nature of the Internet every step of the way. There is nothing inherent in the ‘Net that prevented those musicians from maintaining a decent living except that their lobby (or in some cases through their own testimony in US congress and pleading UK advertisements) killed every chance of it and continue to do so. This whole thing could have been over by year’s end 1996, but here we are rolling into 2010 and *I* am the insensitive ass. Sorry, you’re not winning me over on this one.

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