Part 1, it's about the value of music, the new music business, and how the musician fits into it. As always, Pete has a learned and scholarly take.
creative people want is to know their music has been heard. They would
prefer a response that was constructive than a positive or negative
review. They would prefer expertise to opinion. They would like to know
the public if they had a chance to hear the music, also had a chance to
make up their own minds. They would prefer that in the long term the
public were willing to pay for their music. But looking at the John Peel
model, what is clear is that just knowing there was a chance the great
man would listen, react and offer the music on air, for whatever reason,
was enough for budding musicians and bands.
is where we must be going. Musicians need to be heard, to be judged, if
possible to be paid, but also allowed to believe they had more than a
single chance to get a hit. Software systems that offer this model will
survive and prevail – loved and embraced by musicians of every sort –
whatever happens financially.
the public listen or not, creative writers and musicians should get
paid if their work generates money by virtue of its mere existence on
radio, television, YouTube, Facebook or SoundCloud. It’s tricky to argue
for the innate value of copyright from a position of good fortune – as I
do. I once suggested on a forum that people who download my music
without paying for it may as well come and steal my son’s bike while
they’re at it. One woman was so incensed that she tried to argue that
she was still supporting me as an artist by “sharing” – my parentheses –
music with others who would eventually filter down some cash in some
form or other to me, that would pay for my son’s bike – and she was not,
in any sense, a thief or a criminal. I think she was in a kind of
denial. Cutting the body to fit the cloth rather than the correct way
live in a digital world in which the only absolute is work by the hour.
Lawyers, accountants, doctors, nurses, plumbers, painters, truck
drivers, farmers, pilots, cleaners, actors, musicians – they all get
paid for work done as a clock ticks.
work is not like that. Any one of the people listed above could create a
method that would help other people to do their job in their place.
This could be digitized, and made available on the Internet. I have
given away dozens of my trade secrets in this way, knowing that I could
afford to do so, but also knowing that my trade secrets are also
trademarks in a way – I have become known for a particular style of
creativity that belongs to me, because I am its principle practitioner.
if someone pretends to be me, or pretends that something I have created
should be available to them free – because creativity has less value
than an hour’s work by me as a musician in a pub – I wonder what has
gone wrong with human morality and social justice.
we look at wars we often find ourselves reverting to simple epithets:
why can’t people just get along? Vivre les differénces! So it would be
better if music lovers treated music like food, and paid for every
helping, rather than only when it suited them. Why can’t music lovers
just pay for music rather than steal it?
a return to John Peelism be better? There must have been music lovers
who recorded his shows to tape and shared copies with friends. But it
was never that easy, and was very time-consuming. You had to be really
passionate about some music to share it in this way. Yes I think it
would be better if music lovers had to work a little harder to find what
they like best, and it was not quite so easy to knock out a digital
copy to one’s friends. The word “sharing” surely means giving away
something you have earned, or made, or paid for? At least you should
have searched for it, and not simply happened on it by chance – or
apparent chance, the newly intelligent Internet is now capable of
sending you things that you never thought you wanted. It would be better
if these “sharers” had to set aside time to listen, and to work at
listening, and thereby do honor to the creative work of musicians even
if their final judgment was that the music they heard was not for them –
not worth stealing, not worth sharing.
I’m being facetious, but some things are really worth stealing. A
creative person would prefer their music to be stolen and enjoyed than
ignored. This is the dilemma for every creative soul: he or she would
prefer to starve and be heard, than to eat well and be ignored.
is not like Internet radio, or torrent sites. Radio pays musicians a
fee when music is aired. Radio does not take the position that the
public has a right to decide after hearing the music played whether to
pay for it or not. Radio stations pay, and the public pay directly or
indirectly in order to listen and make the judgment.
you asked a painter to paint your house on condition that if you didn’t
like the color you had chosen, thinking it would work, you wouldn’t pay
not a musician. He was a listener, a patron of the arts, a broadcaster
with almost no censorial mandate or agenda. He only played what he
thought deserved to be played. I don’t think it always mattered that he
himself liked it. In China in Chairman Mao’s day he might have been sent
to prison if only for being the first to play Jesus and Mary Chain, the
Undertones or the Proclaimers – all of them were a little bit
political, but also radical and outspoken. When I first heard them on
John’s show I thought they were a bit dangerous.
if we assume that musicians want more than anything to be heard, and
that there is now a massive audience wanting to hear new music every
day, what is next?
next is already here. The BBC will not be thankful to me for saying
this but if you have a decent computer and some Internet bandwidth there
are dozens of amazing Internet portals where you can hear new music,
and see new videos. SoundCloud, HypeRadio, Cull.TV, Spotify and Last.fm
all offer to take you on an extraordinary journey if you log in. Today,
the era and scope of modern music stretches broadly over a range of
music styles, nationalities and age-ranges that might threaten to
obfuscate the artistic achievements of individual musicians. Sorry, I
mentioned the art word. We might be overwhelmed by the amount of
variation – especially without a John Peel to bring us up to speed every
week. But a quick look at the way the Internet has enriched the
investigation of any particular musician’s work can be proved by the
expediency of searching – just to suggest a deliberately quirky example –
“Bjork” in Last.FM or Spotify. Along with all of Bjork’s many bands and
collaborations, we find the band Garbage, Tori Amos, mùm, Planning to
Rock, Sigur Ros, Bat for Lashes and Fever Ray. They all line up to
confuse and entice. Even iTunes might take you off on a strange,
inspiring or disturbing journey if you search the appropriately
you search my name you’re likely to be spoon-fed tracks by Dave Dee,
Dozy, Mick & Tich. This is the cross that Dave Dee etc. has to bear,
being compared with The Who on Internet search engines.
the BBC has to rise to is the challenge of using some its resources to
sidestep editorial censorship, and give the listeners the kind of
license they got when they tuned into John Peel. That license is offered
free or almost free on dozens of amazing music blogs, sharing websites
and video sites. There is more music being made today, and made ready
for broadcasting, webcasting, podcasting and sharing, than ever before. I
mean by this, finished, well-produced, good sounding music. And if it
doesn’t sound good you can be fairly sure it isn’t meant to. There is a
lot of talk about live music, and it is great that it’s seen to be so
important – but it’s never gone away. In fact The Who shared the bill
with John Peel once or twice, he took his radio show on the road
regularly in the Sixties and Seventies. If the BBC were to start a
website like Spotify, one thing would be certain – the musicians who
were featured would get paid.
Speaking of which: my £6 fee for this lecture is being passed to the Musicians Union Benevolent Fund."