Subject: Re: Free software and free music have some similar problems.
From: Rich Morin <>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 10:06:19 -0700

[I am not a musician nor a music publisher, just an interested fan...]

The current music distribution system isn't working all that well for
most musicians.  Even the ones that get published and distributed see
little of the gross receipts; most musicians don't even get a chance
to get that far.  (This isn't to say that the publishers, distributors,
and resellers are crooks; just that the system is what it is...)

Finances aside, the current system keeps most potential musicians from
ever reaching much of an audience.  There could be a really good folk
singer playing in Santa Cruz and I'd never even hear of him; forget
about hearing a group in Ann Arbor!  Even if an unknown musician can
produce a CD, how will I hear it?

There's also a risk factor.  Should I risk buying a disc on the chance
that it _might_ be interesting?  I frequently buy discs from musicians
that show up at craft fairs; they typically have a way for me to sample
their wares, so I have an idea what I'm getting.  This isn't the case
for most of the CDs in most resale venues.

So, I am hoping that MP3 will bring about a "many-to-many" distribution
system, much as HTML has for web pages.  I also think that folks will
create indexes and collections of music, pointing out stuff they like.
Email lists and newsgroups can also help to disseminate reviews, so a
musician has many chances to get noticed.

Although I don't have a clue how money will be made in the new era, I
suspect that someone will figure that out.  Meanwhile, I will get a
chance to listen to things that don't hit the Top 40.

BTW (Off-off-topic alert), the academic publishing industry is also ripe
for a shake-up, IMHO.  We currently have a situation in which academics
(and even libraries) can't afford to buy the current literature.  In the
meanwhile, few academics make anything from their writing efforts.  I'm
hopeful that peer-reviewed electronic publishing will eventually help
to resolve some of this problem.

Rich Morin:, +1 650-873-7841,
Prime Time Freeware:, +1 408-433-9662,