Monthly Archives: June 2005

Taming the Web

That cool breeze turned out to be a chill wind.

Here’s what the Internet will look like in 20 years: three companies will own the entire thing. I’m serious. We’re all going to look back at the days where a schmuck like me could run a site for $100 a year (for a 1gig, unlimited email, every scripting language I can dream of, etc.) and put anything I want on it… is coming to an end. As the New York cop said “Show’s over, keep moving.”

The Internet will be the home for very, very rich people. What costs $100 today will cost $10,000 maybe $100,000 maybe more in 20 years (in adjusted dollars).

And whatever is affordable will be sued into oblivion.

Users will be users and publishers will be anybody not you.

All under the very watchful eye of three companies. I don’t know which companies and it really doesn’t matter but Google will probably be one of them. Yea and fuck Google. Google is the new Disney. For a long time they will be the darling of this generation. Then this generation will grow up, move to Oregon watch their kids go to high school and while Google turns out the Web’s equivalent to “Herbie Gets Loaded” and say “man, these guys turned out to be evil after all.”

Getting on the Internet (as a user) will be easier and safer than ever. It will be exactly as pervasive as the integrated circuit is today. Each chip will require your online code which is emanating from a plastic card in your wallet. (This is how my computerized Prius starts today.)

The monthly fee to keep that card pumping out your login and password will be just enough for you to complain about — but not much more. Portions of that fee will go directly to the entertainment companies that were behind the SCOTUS Grokster decision today. Just like HBO. The Internet is the new HBO.

And getting your music and video played on HBO? Yea, well, not after today.

What Licenses Make Sense (To Me)

The ccMixter experience has been interesting in terms of CC licensing. What follows is a summation of my personal views, even though I am under contract with CC these views do not represent anything remotely like official statements from CC.

Background

There are two reasons to put music in the Commons: (1) it’s good for culture and (2) it’s good for your career.

(2) doesn’t matter that much if you’re already some kind of big famous celebrity, but if no one knows who you are you need a reason for people to listen to your music. Giving your music away in as many different contexts as possible is key to that. Besides showing a very basic respect for your (potential) audience, you simply can’t afford to mute the sound on your non-existent career before it gets started.

If your music is worth stealing then it’s already stolen. Get over it. If your music isn’t worth stealing then what harm, exactly, is there in giving it away?

CC Licenses

I am officially off the Sampling family of licenses. Maybe if you’re a rock star like the Beasties or Chuck D and you’re really nervous about releasing tracks into the Commons this is a good baby step. But if you’re up and coming and you want to get your music out there these licenses are just too restrictive, especially when it comes to syncing the music to film and getting your tunes into advertising. It’s also highly questionable if straight-up mash-ups are even covered in this license because the remix has to be ‘highly transformative.’ Club mixes are completely forbidden. Personally I’m going to ignore the Sampling licenses for my own use.

I have grave reservations about ShareAlike. While promoters of this license claim it forces open licensing into more places I would claim anything that prevents someone from using my music is having the opposite effect. I don’t ever want to hear “I’d play/remix/sync your song but I don’t want to re-license my work as foo-bar-ShareAlike.” As I stated recently, SA does not affect podcasters, broadcasters and other collections but as a remixer it could have (and has in the case of Mixter) chilling effect on what licenses can be mixed together in sampled/remixed works. That’s enough for me to take a pass on SA.

The only place SA makes total sense (am I’m being at least half serious) is when an RIAA/MPAA entity is interested in your work. Then I would stick it to them and make them go with a SA. Someday, I should be in this situation.

NonDerivs means people can’t remix my material without asking permission. This seems counter to the larger point of putting music in the Commons in both the cultural sense (if all art is built on some thing else, why prevent that?) and in the “good for my career” sense (you want to get your music OUT THERE, no? why allow file sharing and not remixing?)

That leaves NonCommercial. Despite some recent hand wringing about the meaning of the term “non commercial” this means what common sense tells you: “money in exchange for music.”

NC does not mean “a piece of donations received at my church picnic where copies of my CD were handed out” or “a cut of the Amazon partner program take because you have a link to Amazon and my MP3 on your site.”

No. Stop that.

It means “money in exchange for music” and new license verbiage is going to make that explicit. In which case I kind of like this license. It accepts the reality of people who steal music without persecuting people who honestly can’t afford it; all the while encouraging film makers, art installations and remixers who have zero budget and who would otherwise pass on my music completely.

If you’re really making money selling my music then yea, I’d like a cut. If you refuse I’ll probably say OK anyway but either way, I guess I’d like to be notified you’re doing it. So NC works for me where I might give a shit about money.

Finally Attribution (aka BY) has actually been tricky because if I license a sample pack to remixers am I really asking for attribution because you used my open hi-hat sample? This is especially hideous on a sites like Mixter, OpSound, FreeSound where there are 1000s of samples. Do I really have to attribute each artist for each stupid micron of reverb coming off the synth patch? The answer is: the version 2.5 of BY allows for simple collective attribution. That means I just say ‘samples from ccMixter.org’ some where near my remix or collection of remixes. I can live with that.

So the answer for me is:

Attribution (2.5) in all cases, Attribution-NonCommercial (2.5) where I’m feeling full of myself.

This Minutes’s Podcast Safe Resources

This has to be the definitive podcast safe resource list (you know, while this millisecond lasts) over at the invaluable Dave’s Imaginary Sound Space.

On a related note I wanted to clear something up that I’ve run into recently: I have been told by at least one popular podcaster that they will not play CC licensed music that is marked “ShareAlike” because they don’t want to re-license their podcast as “ShareAlike.” This would mean, for example, the entire Magnatune catalog is technically not podcast safe. After checking, explicitly with the head lawyer at CC I can happily tell you that this is simply not the case, the ShareAlike clause does not apply to dropping a song into a collection (including a broadcast). The portion of the show that features song is SA, but not the whole show.

“You Don’t Believe in Your Music”

I don’t know if there’s anything new in this fuck the RIAA tome by self proclaimed former copyright apologist Glenn McDonald. but I can’t think of a more cogent dissertation on what it’s like to be a music fan in 2005.

There are so many well stated points I don’t know where to begin:

If I decide it’s mind-expanding genius, I’ll happily pay for it. If I decide it’s stochastic crap my old parameters justifiably excluded, I’ll delete it. If you believed in your music, and in me, you’d take that deal in an instant. My patience costs me dearly, after all, and yours costs you nothing. But you don’t believe in your music. Most of the time you don’t even know what it is. And you certainly don’t know me, or where my curiosity leads or misleads me. So you invest nothing, and you shouldn’t be surprised by your returns.

Quite frankly I don’t care who leads the revolution, the fans, Magnatune, podcasters, Creative Commons, Downhill Battle — but it does drive me nuts that musicians, collectively three times more screwed than fans like Glenn, seems to be trailing the pack.

CD No Mo

It’s been a while since I drove the length of Ventura Blvd. in the affluent San Fernando Valley suburbs of LA and my life has gotten downright provincial living so close to two of the world’s best record stores (Rasputin and the original Amoeba).

I figured since I’m already driving Hell Road in Gomorrah I might as well check out the only RIAA release in the last year that got my attention (Kayne West’s cool Diamonds are Forever). But check it out: ALL THE RECORDS STORES WERE GONE! With the lone exception of a lowly Borders, all the Towers, Warehouses, and all the other RIAA porn peddlers were off the street.

It’s funny when you know some cultural change like the death of CDs is coming and it’s another thing to see it happen.

All I could think of was thank heavens.

Tracey Ullman’s One Regret

While on the road last week I happened to catch Tracey Ullman’s HBO special in which she recounts her life in and out of show business. One thing caught my attention: here is a very talented performer who has huge success in every performance media, TV, music, film, theatre in every category: dance, Broadway, cable, broadcast network, pop music, drama, comedy, you name it, she’s done it and conquered it. Yet, there is ONE industry that, despite her success that actually stole money from her. In fact, for all the projects she’s worked in the last three decades there is only ONE that has never paid her, “not a Guilder” as she puts it.

“BLOODY RECORD BUSINESS ARE THEIVES”

she screams from the end of the stage.

But you’re smarter than that, right? Of course, she’s just a naive jerk who signed a lousy deal from being so naive about the business. YOU won’t be that stupid when you sign that major label deal.

More Legal vs. Not

In yet another example of where I’m criminal and where I’m not: I recently did a legal mash-up of Brad and Scott called “Hamlet’s Theme.”

But this mix actually started like as a bootie of Brad vs George Harrison “I Dig Love” — I was going to call it “I Dig Overreacting” and everything was going pretty well. But I went straight instead and posted to Mixter to prove what a wonderful reformer (if not mash-up guy) I am. But not before lifting the chord progression and guitar licks from Harrison and laying it under Hamlet anyway.

Where’s my Webby?

(PS: Also in case you blinked I also uploaded what is probably the “definitive fourstones lounge funk” called “Frame The Debate.” What could be next, you ask? Lounge classical? um, yea, actually…)

Calling Sound Shapers…

Mixter-meister teru wants to know a good synth VSTi to use in FL Studio. I’m told Sytrus is better than ice cream and the demo included in FL looks like it should make someone who knows an oscillator from an alligator very happy — every sound I try to make sounds like a cross between a dial tone and electronic door bell. I’ve played with Native Instruments type synths that made me feel like maybe I should have stayed to the end of 10th grade and decided I’d rather start a new mix with an Archie Bell sample.

Two of my indie favs, Brad and Lisa regularly drop in synthy parts into their pop songs and I’ve always been curious what tools they’re using..