Subject: Free software and free music have some similar problems.
From: Keith Bostic <bostic@abyssinian.sleepycat.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 08:36:19 -0400 (EDT)

From: Donn Seeley <donn@bsdi.com>

[How do you get paid for the gig?  Eskelin is a sax player whose
name I recognize from some of my 'downtown' jazz CDs.  -- Donn]

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
From: Ellery Eskelin <eskelin@earthlink.net>
Newsgroups: rec.music.bluenote
Subject: Internet vrs Music Biz (was: Does Jazz turn almost everyone off?)
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 22:23:56 +0000
Organization: Michellery Productions

> In article <A%Jl3.85$ux.4821@news.cwix.com>,
>    "Steve Bosarge" <new-century@cwix.com> wrote:
>>You make some ambitious, worthy points, but your utopian conclusion is
>>too extreme for anyone's good.  Surely you don't advocate literally
>>destroying the music industry?  The internet is not the save-all for
>>wrongheadedness in the music business or any other.

Hi,
Agreed! I've been reading a lot of hype about how the internet is going to
take over the music business but I've seen very little in the way of
pragmatic ideas governing the basic relationship most folks have with
recorded music and to the musicians who provide this music.

The internet is turning out to be a great resource but it seems that a lot
of folks are working just a little too hard to convince us that the music
business is on the way out. In "Making an Ally of Piracy" an article that
ran in the New York Times on May 9, 1999 by Jaron Lanier, (go to
http://www.nytimes.com/ and do a search for article) the author suggests
that musicians will ultimately have no choice but to give away music for
free saying that "there are lots of ways to make money from fans" without
giving us a single example. Sounds like the the music business itself
talking, in as much as clubs often expect musicians to play for the door,
the rationale being "maybe you'll get seen and land a recording contract"
which if it happens usually results in a another song and dance from the
record company about how you should "do this record for free (no
budget/advance) because it'll allow you to tour", which if that happens
usually results in having to haggle with promoters over decent enough fees,
being asked to sleep on floors and even play for the door (isn't this where
we started?) "so you can sell CDs".  It's a downward spiral.

> Walter Davis wrote:
> The music industry does primarily 3 or 4 things for a
> musician -- loans them money (to be recouped) to produce the session,
> manufactures and distributes the product, and advertising/promotion.  In
> exchange for this, the industry gets the lion's share of the profits.

As well as taking the lion's share of the risk. Advances are usually not
loans being that the artist usually gets to keep his or her advance even if
the company does not recoup this money back in sales.

> The internet and other technological advances make the first two steps
> pretty easily obtainable by musicians or will soon.

How is the internet and technology going to front funds to artists? Perhaps
you're inferring that the internet and technology will make it less
necessary to spend a lot of money to make records. I think that's pretty
much already happened, even pre internet wise. Digital recording methods
helped bring on the current glut of music in the market place that began in
the late 80s by making it a less timely and less expensive affair.
(Recording directly to DAT tape being one example rather than paying for
all those costly rolls of analogue recording tape).

Since then it's been possible to make recordings for very little money for
some time now and while that has some advantages it still hasn't replaced
the old methods. Sometimes there's no substitute for a great room, great
engineer and great equipment plus the luxury taking the extra time and
effort to get results that are elusive with a CDR on the edge of the stage
during a live gig. It's possible to make good records on the fly but that's
still a limited proposition.

> Promotion would
> still be a problem.  But they'd also be getting a much higher share of
> the profits.

The internet has already helped make a dent indie promotion in as much as
it's been a great help to fans in locating information on artists that you
won't find in most of the jazz magazines and locating specific hard to find
recordings and obtaining them via mail order, which to me has been one of
the best things about the internet. I think that rather than cheering the
demise of the music industry (or at least the majors) we should be doing
all we can to help the indies. After all, more and more pop, rock,
alternative acts are realizing that they can make more money selling less
records with a successful indie than i dealing with the majors.

> Certainly, releasing a tape of a live show over the
> internet could probably recoup costs with sales of less than 100, unless
> you did a lot of post-production on the tape.  (Heck, once you've paid
> for the DAT and a good stereo mike, the cost of taping a show is pretty
> much the cost of a couple tapes).

Unless you want to pay musicians for their work. It's one thing if you're
just starting out as a  a cooperative band with everyone in it as an equal
partner but after you've been doing this awhile you've got to figure out
how to get paid. It costs money to get people together and take time away
>from  their lives and families to go on the road, record or even rehearse
for that matter. After awhile, doing gigs for the door, sleeping on
people's floors while on tour and recording on "speculation" doesn't work
anymore. Musicians must make a living so as to be able to devote their time
to making music and getting good at it, full time not part time. We all do
what we need to do to prime the pump and get stated in this business but
sooner or later the musician must figure out how to get the system to
support them otherwise they will not be in a position to present their best
efforts and the music itself will suffer. Unless, of course, the artist is
somehow subsidized by other means such as a dedicated record company who
can raise the proper funds to get the job done right, or barring that, rich
relatives.

> Besides with jazz, the vast majority of the releases (if not the vast
> majority of the sales) are on independent labels, folks already working
> pretty barebones and doing minimal promotion.  The advances will both
> make it easier for the indies to survive and will make it easier for the
> artists to do it independently of the indies even.

I pretty much agree in as much as it's already happening in the ways I've
mentioned. As for the future, no body really knows what's going to happen
and it remains to be seen just what those "advances" will be. If that
infers people downloading recordings for free over the internet then I'll
reserve the right to contain my "enthusiasm" as one of those musicians
yearning to be set free into cyberspace...

> Anyway, I think jazz would lose very
> little with the destruction of the music industry. :-)

What about all that back catalogue, unreleased tapes etc?

> Unfortunately, I fear these changes don't bode well for the future of
> record stores

Again, I don't necessarily see this as inevitable. Don't underestimate the
"fetish" of the product, it's great to have a package, a "presentation" of
the artist and the music. Think about LPs, they were beautiful artifacts to
hold in one's hand and many of us miss them for that reason.

By the way,  I don't have the most recent figures available on this (maybe
some one can help us out on this) but I'm fairly certain that most American
households, let alone the rest of the world, are not on-line. If I'm wrong
about that then it's certainly safe to say that there are a whole lot of
folks out there who can't or won't spend thousands of dollars on computer
equipment but do buy a fair amount of tapes and CDs. What happens to all
those folks? Not even taking money into account, there are still plenty of
folks who are not interested in figuring out how to buy, hook up, and
troubleshoot computers to begin with, let along figure out how to download
music.

Maybe the youth market (being more interested in computers) will drive the
whole thing but that seems like a further fractionalization of the market
rather than a democratizing force. Maybe once downloading music becomes as
easy as watching television (quick and simple) will the current scenarios
have greater meaning, but it hasn't happened yet. The big secret that all
the hype-sters are holding back on his just how are we supposed to get paid
for having our music available on internet downloads? Seems to me that no
matter what happens there will need to be gatekeepers and toll booth
operators; in other words people to control the potentially massive
onslaught that music via television would entail. The more I think about it
the more the whole thing starts to look like the same dynamic of power and
control we have now being, only now it's on a new playing field and you can
bet that as soon as the smoke clears it ain't gonna be a level one.

If it does become viable to self publish music on the web it's going to be
quite a challenge for any one particular artist to gain much attention in
the midst of thousands of new songs coming out monthly. I read an
interesting article in the Voice recently in which Douglas Wolk related
what it was like to have to sift through much of what gets posted on the
MP3 internet sites. Seems there's already a huge tendency towards tons of
extremely generic music by scads of musicians just desperate to get
noticed. Who's gonna sort all that out?

I'm not supporting the "music biz" per se, (we all know that the majors are
evil!) and I don't mean to sound pessimistic about all this. I'm just
trying to balance out the hype. I think the Internet has been fantastic for
independent musicians and labels. It allows musicians and labels the
opportunity to create websites which give music fans the opportunity to
deal directly with the creators and facilitators (all of whom are not evil)
of a music that has often been nearly impossible to explore other than the
hit or miss nature of seeing a particular CD in the store once in your
lifetime and never being able to get any information on where to find it
again. I also attribute the internet with helping to facilitate the growing
number of musicians currently touring new jazz in the US. As Walt Davis is
very aware in his capacity as a presenter (yea Walt!!!), email and
newsgroups have been a great benefit. The Internet is a welcome addition to
the arena to be sure, let's just keep our heads screwed on as we proceed,
shall we?

--
Ellery Eskelin/Michelle Van Natta
Michellery/Prime Source Productions
http://home.earthlink.net/~eskelin/
eskelin@earthlink.net