Saturday 10 January 2004

Pirates of the mintrels' art

One is getting rather bored
Lately, the recording and film industry have bored us with the incessant rant about piracy, illegal downloads and falling profits.
There might have been a time when one could almost sympathise and understand their plight; however, they are victims of their inactions, evident in the fact that elephants are not nimble animals.
Just as people do not try to consider the roots and causes of terrorism, the roots and causes of piracy are ignored in favour of attacking the symptoms.
By analogy depending on the species of tree, cutting the leaves, stems or branches might stop growth or kill the tree, but it is uprooting the tree that would ensure the death of that tree.
In the creative wilderness
What is needed by the recording industry is some creative thinking on how to harness the new technologies for the survival of their businesses.
Creative thinking however is something that has been lacking in the industry for a long time. Examples abound of where they have refused genuine artistic license to artistes who do have creative genius for the supposed understanding of what the customer wants.
George Michael suffered a stifling of this creativity when Sony failed to market appreciably his Listen Without Prejudice album, which by all account enjoys critical acclaim.
The reality talent shows like Fame Academy and Pop Idol would make more sense if some of the judges were people with talent who could nurture talent better than thinking of how to deliver the most obnoxious put-down.
It is good to see that some of the manufactured bands are splitting up and the real talent is shining through with solo contracts where the artiste has more control over their material and how it is presented.
Video kills the radio star
It is no secret that the record companies abuse their positions when the transition from vinyl to CD allowed them to charge above the odds for their material. It is interesting to note that piracy was not that rife with the advent of recording devices like the cassette player.
However, the MP3 is a complete shake down of the industry, this made music digitally portable and Napster – a data-sharing software and service – allowed the MP3s to be shared amongst enthusiasts at no cost.
The recording industry went after Napster and close-down the company, but it provided the forum for more Napster-like services which are well within the commonsense limits of a data-sharing service dependent on what the individual wants to share.
A test case brought in Europe came to nought because the judge contended that if a customer has bought their music, they are within their rights to do whatever they want with what is principally their property.
Reckless gambling
Now, the argument for piracy destroying the finding new talent does not hold any water. If the talent were real rather than manufactured, it would show through.
Companies should also properly reward artistes based on their sales and stop front-loading contracts with outrageous sums that amount to reckless gambling.
Maria Carey and Michael Jackson are cases of where companies invested millions on a potential that did not materialise.
Music for all tastes
The focus of industry should also move on from just serving the musical tastes or rather tastelessness of the teenager generation, we need music that is good for listening, good to dance to, rhythmic and sensible.
It is unfortunate that part of this poor music culture fuels drug usage because nominally no one in their clear minds can dance to music played at 130 beats per minute.
Additionally, all this mixing business does not necessarily enhance the quality of the music for the dance floor; there is no good recognition factor for music that has been adulterated with other sounds, which were not part of the creative purpose of the artiste.
Technological advancements
It is clear that technological advancements would lead the curve when it comes to the music industry and it is time for the music industry elephant to re-invent itself.
The common saying is "If you are green you grow, if you are ripe you rot" the rotting smell of denial and lack of visionary drive to capture the technologies for enhancement is pervading the air and suffocating everyone.
Piracy is here to stay
  1. Piracy would not go away, until the industry provides just and sensible reward for the artiste, not every artiste has to be a millionaire and have a wanton and lascivious lifestyle. They are supposed to be people like you and I.
  2. It would not go away until the customer sees music formats as affordable.
  3. It would not go away if the quality of published and produced music were not distinctly better than the Napster-like downloads.
  4. It would not go away if the music produced is so ephemeral and has no enduring quality, which is why a contemporary's greatest hits album is only valuable within five years of their marketability.
Compared to the classics of the 60s, 70s and early 80s, the dash for market share and cash of the 90s has done much damage to the fabric of creative talent.
More people are switching to other non-popular or classical forms of music for entertainment, relaxation and inspiration.

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