Musical Adventures in Webland

by on November 12, 2007 · 0 comments

Good. Musician makes good. There’s an interesting article with some ideas in Spin magazine–though no clear direction emerges. Potentially useful for new artists, not so much for encouraging the re-release of Led Zeppelin (soon to be on iTunes) or old blues. If the thought of entanglement of music in a web of marketing schemes is not entirely appealing, but, well, that’s not a policy concern. What becomes of artists from unsophisticated backgrounds in this might well be… professional sports all over again?

On the prospects for live music, from Richard Morrison. (And I confess another non-policy consideration, I detest live music–one sacrifices consistent sound quality to leave the privacy of one’s home to sit or stand in crowds flaunting their absurd subcultures–but I will make grudging exceptions for metal concerts, classical guitar, and live jazz). But this, too, has its limits as a business model.

Also less encouraging is Radiohead’s experiment in whatever-it’s-worth pricing, with many electing a price of zero; the link is to Bill Rosenblatt’s report. Barry Shrum offers his perspective.

In the end, it will all get worked out. But there is no end in sight for the usefulness of copyright and technology as a tool for defining obligations in new relationships of goods, services, and persons, or as a substitutes for traditional enforcement. Continued competition of free goods with paid goods would reduce anxiety about whether producers are sensitive to consumer demand for flexible and friendly protection technology.

Two distressing trends in the overall debate, though, might well be with us forever. One is the tendency of some to see the glass of new technology as almost entirely empty, the other to see it as almost entirely full. But where old boundaries don’t hold up, new lines will be found and somehow enforced; markets go on. And where the status quo gives way, one ends up with not an end to the limitations on human endeavor peculiar to one set of economic circumstances, but a whole new set of limitation peculiar to the next. On the whole, people don’t do well without lines drawn in the sand, and will draw new ones when the last set is erased.

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