[LINK] More on the Music Industry

Timothy Michael O'Leary oleary@alphalink.com.au
Mon, 24 Feb 2003 15:21:21 +1100

At 12:30 PM Monday 2/24/03 +1100, Hans W. Groenewegen wrote:
>One of the many things that annoy me about this too frequently repeated
>LINK discussion on the music industry is the fact that most contributors
>seem to equate "music" with rock and other forms of contemporary (and
>generally ephemeral) popular music.

I'll ignore the jibe about ephemeral if you'll allow me some jibes at 
another time. I certainly don't equate "music" with only rock or 
contemporary music (whatever that means). I think you'll find its the RIAA 
that does this in its whinging about "piracy".

>There is very little consideration
>given to the fact that the music industry has for years been cross
>subsidising their serious music output from the income generated by
>popular music sales.

I'll ignore your second jibe (thats two I owe you) - I assume by serious 
music - you mean the music you like ?

That is a pretty big statement about cross subsidies. I'm not aware of any 
evidence that this occurs. I don't call assertions by entertainment 
companies as evidence.

>With the decline in that income, partly due to web
>piracy, the amount of money being spent by the recording industry in
>commissioning new recordings of serious classical music, for example,
>has reduced significantly.

I'm not sure if it has declined but I'll take your word for it. However 
there is clearly a resurgence, maybe even a boom,  in "jazz"  performances 
and recordings. Not necessarily on BIG labels.  I'm not sure how web 
downloading / "piracy" could effect "serious " / classical music or jazz as 
in my experience classical music and jazz lovers tend towards critical 
listening and hi-fi and find compression of music fidelity by, say, MP3 an 
anathema.  A fact rarely mentioned in discussion by the industry is that 
almost without exception music downloading / file sharing / piracy is done 
by the use of compression techniques mostly MP3 a lossy compression method. 
At its worst this might be akin to claiming polaroid instant photo of the 
Mona Lisa is "piracy" of a visual art work.

>Many of the classical CD's that are  coming
>on the market are in fact re-issues of recordings made many decades ago.
>Although the sound quality is still good and the recording artists are
>often legendary, it does mean that the opportunities for new artists to
>make their name and for new - and perhaps slightly more esoteric - works
>to be recorded are declining.

Exactly the same can be said about "rock" . I have never really understood 
one of the curious things about the CD music retail industry. The price of 
a CD rarely varies at all between outlets, countries or artists.  The 
standard price between $25 - $30 for a CD applies to badly copied old vinyl 
to CD of Rod Stewart's early hits to new works by Laurie Anderson to 
meticulously  remastered Miles Davis albums as well as  Brittney Spears 
latest offering or a re-issue of Gould or Cage's 4"33".

CDs are marketed as a commodity, hardly surprising then that some of the 
younger generation treat it as a commodity.

>The purpose of copyright is not, as Chris Maltby (quoting Richard
>Stallman) said, merely to cover the significant costs
>associated with traditional methods of physical duplication and
>delivery. The purpose is to promote creative endeavour which is
>obviously much wider than that and not really affected by the changes in

I'm not convinced that the purpose of copyright is to promote creative 

>No doubt it is quite possible for some uncouth local rock
>band to distribute its latest creation on the Web.

aah jibe number 3

>But it takes a lot
>more resources to make a top quality recording of Berlioz' Requiem or
>the complete Beethoven string quartets.

Take a look at those dinosaurs of rock the rolling Stones - I'd be willing 
to bet you would get 3 different orchestras (one of them uncouth if 
desired) doing Faure's Requiem in the best studio for the cost of half a 
stones album.
More importantly if I want to listen to a new recording of "old" music, or 
a new work by Gavin Bryars or say Kronos, I want the best of fidelity, not 
a compressed MP3. In this context I believe downloading of music / MP3s can 
only refer to a narrow range of music. I just cant see "piracy" effecting 
sales of "serious " music.