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Download Only Song to Crack the Top 40

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the all-shook-up dept.

Music 391

nagora writes "The BBC is reporting that next week's UK music chart may have the first sign of the end of the recording industry as we know it. From this week (7th Jan, 2006), all downloaded music sales are counted in the official UK chart, not just tracks which have had a physical media release. Now, an unsigned band called Koopa is poised to enter the top 40 without any old-world recording, distribution, or production deals. Band member Joe Murphy says "If someone comes along and gives us an offer, we'll talk to them." before continuing on to add the words the recording industry has been having nightmares about since the introduction of the mp3 format: "If we can get enough exposure and get in the top 40 by the end of the week, do we necessarily need a large label? Probably nowadays, no you don't." Is this finally the crack in the dam we've all been waiting for to wash away the entrenched monopolies of 20th century music production? Or just a sell-out waiting to happen?"

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Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551134)

...keep moving forward by working to repeal laws that instill any form of anti-market monopoly, such as copyright. I promote and produce for a few bands in the Chicago area, and I've worked hard to get them to repudiate monopoly. The bands that do make more money! Why?

Small bands want their music out their -- the CD sales aren't where the cash cow is. Live venues can be very lucrative for even a small band -- getting 300 people to a show can net you $1 a beer or $2-$4 per head. Also, you can upsell your new fans on items they can't easily copy, such as T-shirts, autographed posters, etc. My brother's band Maps & Atlases [maps-atlases.com] just received a major article in Guitar Player, and they're moving forward with picking up sold-out shows, all without any representation. They do just fine on cover charges, new T-shirts every month or so, and autographed screen-printed show posters. If they can do 50 shows a year (1 a week), there's no reason that each of them can't make a very respectable 5 figures a year, after expenses.

Sure, CD sales account for some profit, especially on tour, but there is little reason to think that a band needs a label just for radio exposure or MTV. Both are great for the rare groups that can break 50,000 albums a year or sell out to 3000+ crowds -- and the chance of being one of those bands is so rare that it is almost impossible. Even worse, the labels utilize the force of copyright against even the bands that "succeed" by wrapping up all their future income in the form of residuals and management fees.

If you're a small band that wants to make it big -- tour. If you're a medium-sized band that is starting to form an audience -- get a street team. If you're a large band, make more products for your consumers to buy that isn't easily copied. Sometimes that 5 minutes you spend with a fan is worth a lifetime of them wanting your products, even if they get the easily-copied products for free.

The best form of marketing is piracy -- if you're part of the 99% of the artists out there who can't get into the big industry because you have no clout or nepotism pull.

Is it easy either way? NO. Simple laws of supply and demand will show you that most artists won't cut it -- it is very easy to get into the market (financially). The skills can mostly be learned. The production tools are getting cheaper and cheaper. There is a near limitless supply of people who want to get into the market. Surely, few are talented, but the simple fact that there is SO MUCH SUPPLY and so little demand means that most bands will make nothing (or worse, lose a ton of time and money trying). Still, the web will surpass the radio and MTV as the prime networking engine, and I do believe that collaborative filtering engines such a CRITEO [criteo.com] will really take off when more small sites start utilizing them to get their microcosm of users to collaborate on what they like and don't like.

Sidenote: If any bands are out here that are interested in trying this theory, and have any touring experience beyond a few local shows, hit me up with an e-mail, we have some money to invest in those who repudiate copyright in exchange for the free promotion that torrents and fileshare offers.

Congrats to KOOPA for proving that you don't need might -- or force -- to be more than a starving artist.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551236)

The GNU Public License rests solidly on copyright law. Take away copyrights, and anybody can take GPL software and release it as closed source.

The right answer is to limit copyrights. I think that 30 years from creation, plus another 30 years IF the copyright holder explicitly renews his rights is fair. When the copyright expires, after either 30 or 60 years, it goes directly and permanently into the public domain. The Library of Congress should hold the official registry of copyrighted works in the USA. Corporations should not have terms that exceed or are different from the rights given to individuals.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551306)

The GNU Public License rests solidly on copyright law. Take away copyrights, and anybody can take GPL software and release it as closed source.

Non-disclosure agreements and the concept of a trade secret are examples of copyright-like limitations on free speech. Remove them, and any company's attempt to keep source secret would be undone when any ex-employee or disgruntled cubicle denizen can freely leak it.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551380)

Don't remove those, because those are contractual restrictions, and therefore voluntary. People have the right to enter into contracts if they want to. I don't think outlawing non-disclosure agreements is very smart at all.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1, Redundant)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551444)

Not all contractual agreements hold up in court, even when completely voluntary.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551864)

Do you really want to go there?

Privacy laws are also examples of copyright-like limitations on free speech. Remove them, and any disgruntled employe's attempt to screw over his employer will be met with swift and effective retribution.

Your employer potentially has plenty of information on you that you might not like leaked to unsavory individuals in retaliation for leaking their info... (SSN, name, phone, address, next-of-kin/emergency contact, insurance info, checking account transfer codes if you get paid by direct deposit, logins and passwords to anything you ever accessed from any of their computers or networks, etc...).

It doesn't pay to piss off someone bigger than you, in an information anarchy. They may have more to loose, but you're still going to get stepped on.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (0)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551912)

In the long term, the ease of disclosing information--both employees about employers and vice versa--may lead precisely to the situation David Brin describes in his essay The Transparent Society [davidbrin.com] .

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1, Insightful)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552200)

Where's the NYCountryLawyer when you need him! Well, until he can chime on on this comment I'm gonna have to disagree with you CRC. NDAs are contracts not copyrights. COMPLETELY different animals. Copyrights protect creative works once they are released into the public, where non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) protect information or creative works before they are completed. Copyrights are granted without the need for legal agreement of separate parties, i.e., I can put a circle-C (©) on a piece of original work and it is protected by law from that point forward. An NDA is a legal agreement between two or more parties that any work being done, or information being exchanged, between those parties remains exclusive to those designated persons, organizations or institutions, and has to be signed by a member of each.

Here's an example:

If you and I formed a partnership and were working on a screenplay for a film and signed an NDA that stated we were not legally allowed to discuss the contents of said screenplay with anyone but each other, and one of us did talk about it in violation of the NDA a suit could be brought to court for violating the NDA. BUT, we would both still retain the copyright to the material in the screenplay should anything ever come of it, unless the court action resulted in a transfer of copyright due to the outcomes of the case, i.e., I sued you for violation of NDA and demanded that you release all claims to the copyrighted material to date.

Now, copyrights can be contested if prior art existed before you released your work and made your claim to copyright on it. That's something else; maybe plagiarism in the case of the screenplay. NDAs are also not restrictions on free speech as they are not restricting original oration or free thinking, they are designed to protect the work of multiple parties prior to public release; especially in the case of "trade secrets". If you alone, without the help of others, or without the blanket protections and resources (material, financial and human assets) a company can provide, were to develop a piece of intellectual property then you are free to do with it anything that you want. That's called sole invention. If any other party is involved in the development of an invention (especially one that may generate revenue), and that party is either a person, organization, corporation or institution then an NDA is a good way to protect the rights of ownership and competitive advantage in a free market economy. If you've ever had a confidence betrayed in your life then you know what it feels like (to a degree) when a NDA is violated. What the NDA does is give you legal recourse to sue the ever loving s**t out of the party that was in violation, instead of just going home and crying and then dealing with the fallout from the betrayed trust.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Interesting)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551396)

In some other discussion here about copyright I said why not have copyright last as long as the artist lives, or 30 years, whichever is longest? (In case the artist dies shortly after creating a work, their family should benefit from profits).

Why shouldn't an artist continue to reap the rewards of a creation of theirs for the entire lives?

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551546)

Why shouldn't an artist continue to reap the rewards of a creation of theirs for the entire lives?

Because it runs counter to the whole purpose of copyright. If creators can milk their creations for their whole lives, then they lose incentive to make new material. If the work they do in a month* only pays the bills for ten years*, then after those ten years* are up, they have to get back to work if they want to eat, thus creating new material, thus achieving copyright's goals.

If a farmer could grow a single field of potatoes and get paid for them over and over again for the rest of his life, the world would starve.

* Made up numbers, feel free to fill in your own.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (3, Insightful)

Merusdraconis (730732) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552098)

So would it be true to say that the purpose of copyright is to mimic depreciation in real-world goods? Seeing as ideas don't age (the wheel is still just as good an idea now as it was when it was invented), forcing the value curve so that an idea is worth more when it is new, but less when it's old, makes it a lot more profitable to produce ideas.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (3, Insightful)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552634)

So would it be true to say that the purpose of copyright is to mimic depreciation in real-world goods?
No. The purpose of copyright is to provide the greatest benefit to the comunity by providing an incentive to create in the form of an artificial monopoly for a limited duration.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (2, Insightful)

chimpo13 (471212) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552150)

Art can't be created as easily as potatoes are grown (IANAPF - I Am Not A Potato Farmer). I like the idea of life or 30 years.

The songs you sing when you're 20 are goofy when you're 30. Imagine being the Ramones and singing "Now I wanna sniff some glue" when you're in your 50s.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Insightful)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551730)

Artists don't have a natural right to control how their work is used after they distribute it. Copyright is a contract between creators and society, where we give them a short term monopoly on distributor to encourage them to contribute to the public domain. Setting copyright lengths to life defeats the purpose.

Honestly, I'd say 5 to 10 years is more than fair. If you haven't made money off of your stuff by then, then you're not likely to.

Point being that copyright is supposed to benefit us by benefiting them.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (0)

mikeisme77 (938209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552176)

5-10 years is far too short. For things like books, movie scripts, almost any type of writing and probably some visual art and music too... Otherwise publishers, studios, etc. you submit your work to (which you might not do until a 2+ years after the original copyright--have to find an agent, do some revisions, etc.) would just sit on it until the copyright runs out and then make money from it... I think a 15 year minimum on copyrights would be ok, but 30+ years (but no longer than the life of the creator--as long as the creator lives at least 15 years after the work is created) would probably be the best way to go...

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (3, Insightful)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552342)

I guess I still just don't get how someone else can make profit from something that I created just because X years have gone by. If the thing I created 10 years ago is no longer making money because no-one wants to buy it, then that'll make me create something else. But if I've created something that is desirable to people for decades after I first made it, and there continues to be people who want to buy it... why shouldn't I be making money from it, rather than someone else?

The whole 'It will make you do more work' point seems a little off to me... A creative person will create based on the desire to create more so than to make money... those who do it purely to make more money probably aren't really making worthwhile contributions anyway.

I dunno... I suppose my measure for it being a good argument is that I can agree with the reason and convince someone else... and I just can't see the point of it being forced into the public domain while the original creator could still be making a living from it. Being able to extend indefinitely past the creator's death is a load of bull, and does nothing to benefit the creators of the works... but during their life? Hmmm... not an easy sell to me.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Insightful)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552450)

But if I've created something that is desirable to people for decades after I first made it, and there continues to be people who want to buy it... why shouldn't I be making money from it, rather than someone else?
Because you live in a society that makes it possible for you to create that thing. As in incentive to make society better, you're given a monopoly over said thing for a brief period. Then the thing should be made available to everyone in society so new, better things can be built without having to start from scratch. To argue for infinte copyrights is to argue that you should be able to use stuff that came before you, but no one after you should have the same opportunity.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (2, Interesting)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552512)

Then the thing should be made available to everyone in society so new, better things can be built without having to start from scratch.
This makes sense from a mechanical, product, 'make things work' standpoint... but it doesn't really hold, for me, for works of art. So, by having short copyright I can take Harry Potter, chop it up a bit, put a couple of different names in it and make a new book out of it? How does that work?

To argue for infinite copyrights is to argue that you should be able to use stuff that came before you, but no one after you should have the same opportunity.
I never said infinite copyright... I said copyright for the life of the creator... I still don't see a problem with that. There's an awful lot of stuff created by people long dead that you could go ape with in the public domain under this model.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552632)

And when that creator is a corporation and immortal?

In any case 28 years from first commercial publication (otherwise the life of the creator) is plenty.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552356)

Honestly, I'd say 5 to 10 years is more than fair. If you haven't made money off of your stuff by then, then you're not likely to.

Except that history proves otherwise. If anything, it points to the opposite. This idea has the problem of penalizing people who are innovative and ahead of their time. Many of the greatest works of art are not understood or accepted by society for many years after their creation, and often not until the artist's death. On the flip-side, it rewards people who make superficial, faddish junk that is soon forgotten.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Insightful)

awol (98751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551454)

Correct GPL is based on copyright. But you are only half right about the "taking open code and closing it". It is true that under a non copyright regime (which I support) such taking and closing is possible. But even where there is no copyright there is the _fact_ of authorship. That is the closing can only legally be done with the correct attribution ie, "derived from project X" or based on code from "Jo Public". Take away those attributions and the closing author is committing fraud, claiming something that is their work independent of the true author. This damages the reputation (or rather fails to enhance it adequately) of the original source of the code. Which is a very simple wrong. And easy to fix. Much good flows on from this situation.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551776)

Take away copyrights, and anybody can take GPL software and release it as closed source.

Oh come on. Without copyright there IS no closed source. There would be no law to keep me from using it.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1)

OECD (639690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552024)

The right answer is to limit copyrights. I think that 30 years from creation, plus another 30 years IF the copyright holder explicitly renews his rights is fair.

I'm just about there with you. Personally, I think that given the acceleration of technology, storage times, etc. Two generations (i.e., 40 years) should be the maximum. I'd like to see the initial period being opt-in (rather than the current opt-out.) Ideally, I'd like to see the initial period lasting fourteen years (crap, if it worked in the 1700's, it should at least work in the "information age.")

Sort of... (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552418)

Take away copyrights, and any employee can leak your source, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (0, Offtopic)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551256)

Fr0st pist!!!!

Oh wait, how did I lose to dada21's encyclopedic first post? Not fair. There should be a law against forts psist longer than about 5 lines.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (0)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551550)

there's no reason that each of them can't make a very respectable 5 figures a year, after expenses.


I have no idea what your idea of "very respectable" is, but I have to tell you, $10,002.13 a year doesn't sound that exciting to me. I mean I can make more than that stuffing burritos at taco bell.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (2, Informative)

edflyerssn007 (897318) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552072)

I'd say a respectable 5 figures is somewhere between $35,000 and $99,999. No one thinks $10,000 is a respectable number for income in the first world.

-Ed

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Insightful)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551618)

Art's expensive. Paint, canvas, pianos, harpsicords, guitars, theatres, lights, studios, tour buses, dancers in cages, and hand-sorted m&ms all cost money.

Gone are the days when it took hundreds of thousands of dollars--if not millions--to publish a book, release an album or make a film. F*ck the "artists" who don't like the way the world is changing. I'd much rather toss a 20 to a brilliant performer on open mic night than a shrink-wrapped CD any day.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Interesting)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551648)

Hate to burst your bubble but bar bands don't make money as a rule. I have a lot of friends that do it and what little they make comes from CD and tshirt sales and it ain't much. Generally doesn't pay expenses. Back in the day some groups used to make money at it. I used to know one of the Flying Burrito Brothers, they were a hot bar band in the 70s. They stopped playing in the 80s because there just wasn't any money in it. Too many garage bands willing to play for free to get exposure. The problem is exposure for what? If everyone wants free downloads and small venues don't pay then it's no longer a profession.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551988)

That's completely false. I've produced 3 bands in 2006 (basically, fronted them the money for marketing, promotion and equipment) that have done fairly well doing relatively small-club tours. Many of them saw significant profits from selling their $3 t-shirts for $15, their $0.50 posters (signed) for $10, and other dookie. Art isn't necessarily a profit center -- getting a job and meeting regular needs is.

A musician can get a job making music for industrial purposes (movies, TV shows, even local productions such as local TV commercials, etc). A musician can get a job teaching others how to play music. A musician can get a job working on soundtracks for video games or other goods. That's where the consistent money is. Otherwise, it is risk/reward: you're out there competing against thousands or tens of thousands of bands, the risk is huge for a very slim chance of a huge reward. Why is this? Because the content is controlled by copyright -- any one band invests 200 hours total in making an album. 1000 bands do this. 1 band succeeds and never has to work again. 999 bands fail and continue to try. Why is the first band any better than the others? Usually because they're colluding with the distribution monopolies (designed this way by the FCC, mind you) who control copyright.

If you're a tiny band and I bootleg your music, you have NO chance of suing me and winning -- I probably have more money than you, if I was a pirate. Copyright only helps the distribution cartels -- and cartels are generally formed by government force.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552458)

[quote]Otherwise, it is risk/reward: you're out there competing against thousands or tens of thousands of bands, the risk is huge for a very slim chance of a huge reward. Why is this? Because the content is controlled by copyright -- any one band invests 200 hours total in making an album. 1000 bands do this. 1 band succeeds and never has to work again. 999 bands fail and continue to try. Why is the first band any better than the others? Usually because they're colluding with the distribution monopolies (designed this way by the FCC, mind you) who control copyright.[/quote]

You say it's down to the distribution/marketing lot... but that aside, how is reducing copyright going to fix this problem? How does making the music, that you say is no better than the other artists, become public domain fix anything? Surely if the need to work another 200 hours in X years rather than Y years means diddly if the 'monopolies' are sitll controlling everything.

I just don't see the link between band X being great but unnoticed and band Y being not so great but having great success, and copyright lengths... I just don't.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552576)

Copyright -- like any law that automatically creates monopoly forces "legally" -- eventually ends up with cartels in some manner. When you have laws that create a non-market-driven force, you can expect someone to try to take advantage of the laws to harm competition.

The end result of copyright tends to be monopolization in the distribution portion, especially in music and video. This artificially-created cartelization leads to control of many other distribution markets -- radio, TV, concert venues (Chicago shows tend to be run mostly by a large monopoly called Jam Productions), etc. The FCC is also to blame here, as they've allowed the cartelization of copyright to also monopolize the airwaves -- again due strictly to government-legalized monopolization of a product that has a lot of supply, so they cap it.

When a bad band is marketed (and produced) by those in control of the cartel/monopoly, that band is set at a higher level than a band that might be great but isn't part of the cartel/control scheme.

Getting rid of monopoly would be huge in terms of leveling the playing field -- now bands have to not just write good music (and MANY popular bands don't write their music), they have to be able to PERFORM IT regularly as we would perform our jobs.

You spend hours learning new coding techniques or learning new marketing techniques, etc, but it is your long term hours that you pay, not your education necessarily. In music, a band's "practice" and "writing" is like your continuing education -- it sets them apart from the competition by having a new product to offer directly (face to face).

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552626)

All well and good for creative acts that can perform their works live. But what about some forms of music which can't readily be played live, yet are no less legitimate?

And what about
* Books
* Painting/Drawing etc.
* Photography
* Sculpture

?

How can they keep 'performing' their works live? Why should anyone be able to make copies of their works and profit from them?

I don't get it at all.

Am I just being dense?

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (5, Insightful)

mdwstmusik (853733) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552088)

bar bands don't make money as a rule.

True, as a rule, but not because there isn't a market capable of supporting bar bands. Most bar bands don't make money for the same reason most new business fail, poor management. I've been playing in bar bands for 25 years, 10 of those years playing bars provided my sole income. I only backed off due to a temporary medical problem. A bar musician can make $50,000+ per. year if they treat it like a 'REAL' job. They can't forget the business in "music BUSINESS." Be flexible, find your target market(s), play to those markets, keep your expenses to a minimum, and work at it 40+ hours per. week. Those are the kinds of things that one does when they run any kind of business.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (0, Flamebait)

JPriest (547211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552138)

If everyone wants free downloads and small venues don't pay then it's no longer a profession.

Like Linux?

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551754)

I think it is a smart idea for bands who aren't already making significant money from album sales to distribute their music for free, encourage fan 'bootlegs', mashups and so on.

But the band shouldn't give up their copyrights. If they get really lucky and DO get a monster hit, they could make some good money by selling or licensing that song. Conversely, it prevents advertisers, politicians, ideologues or other unsavoury types from using it in ways they might not like.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1)

snero3 (610114) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551796)

congrats, you the first logical and sane person I have heard comment on this for a long time.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552102)

Congrats to KOOPA for proving that you don't need might -- or force -- to be more than a starving artist.

Amen! Indeed, all you need to be is GOOD. It might take a while, and a lot of hard work, but if you're good, you'll gain the fanbase, and eventually make it. What the music industry have done over the last goodness-knows-how-many years is to subvert that process by taking mediocre talent and marketing the hell out of it. In the end, nobody (expect them) wins. They know this, and they are running scared. Well, har-har! You've ridden the gravy train into the ground. It's gone. Get used to it.

This is a great day for music lovers.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (2, Insightful)

jcdick1 (254644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552118)

This has always been my position when it came to the music industry. Musicians need to stop seeing the CD as the end product, and instead sell their MUSIC. I sit in a cubicle 40 hours a week, as my choice of career, and make a decent middle-class living. If someone chooses to be a musician, he or she should be rehearsing every day, get the band tight as a drum, and play MUSIC for people. Sell themselves, not CDs. And they will also be able to make that decent middle-class living.

Thank you for helping musicians, any musicians, understand that difference. I will definitely check out your brother's band.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552192)

Bingo.

Imagine if a CAD operator decided they should get paid for 70 years whenever someone copies a drawing they worked on. Not realistic, but isn't it art? How is drafting a building plan different from painting a face? Imagine if a plumber charged you per flush for 70 years after fixing your toilet? Doubtful that it would work. But many artists think their labor has value in the long term, even though they shouldn't in a free market perspective.

I make more money every year because the value I give to others increases every year -- I am worth more through learning, perfecting and marketing my skills. A musician can do the same, and entertainment has GREAT value. I go see Penn & Teller 4 times a year in Vegas, and I pay through the nose on purpose because the guys make me laugh. Yet they are on stage 5 days a week! Even Prince is trying this gig in Vegas, and he charges $300 a ticket to see him -- he plays two nights a week at his club. Awesome!

You don't need residual income from the force of copyright to make a living. I'd say 90% of us don't get any residual income on past work -- we get paid for what we produce today.

Re:Don't stop at just the labels... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552300)

getting 300 people to a show can net you $1 a beer or $2-$4 per head. Also, you can upsell your new fans on items they can't easily copy, such as T-shirts, autographed posters, etc.

Are they musicians or merchandise vendors? Personally, I feel that music should be about the music. Not selling merchandise crap or alcohol. Gimmicks, fashion, and selling addictive substances are the exact opposite way that musicians should be going. For all of copyright's problems, at least it helps artists sell their actual art. Why should the alcohol companies, venues and textile companies (probably using child labor) get all the profits, while you disallow the ownership of the most direct product of an artist's work? That's just an incentive for people not to focus on the art, and focus on marketing instead.

MAFIAA (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551160)

If we can get enough exposure and get in the top 40 by the end of the week, do we necessarily need a large label? Probably nowadays, no you don't.

I'm sure some burly men in suits from the RIAA would have something to say about that. You wouldn't want anyone to get hurt, would you?

Re:MAFIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551624)

I'm sure they will get signed very soon, so they can claim to all the artists that nobody ever survives without the RIAssA

The answer (5, Funny)

PurifyYourMind (776223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551162)

Is this finally the crack in the dam we've all been waiting for to wash away the entrenched monopolies of 20th century music production? Or just a sell-out waiting to happen?

Yes.

Re:The answer (5, Funny)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551334)

Before you mod this guy down note that he isn't being a tool. He is just parsing the GP's comment using boolean logic, and is therefore correct.

Re:The answer (0)

durnurd (967847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551974)

Before you mod this guy down note that he isn't being a tool. He is just parsing the GP's comment using boolean logic, and is therefore correct.
Not necessarily. If the question were more along the lines of "Is this finally the crack in the dam we've all been waiting for to wash away the entrenched monopolies of 20th century music production or is it not the case that this is finally the crack in the dam we've all been waiting for to wash away the entrenched monopolies of 20th century music production?" then "Yes" would have been a true statement. However, since the question asks about two options which have not been proven to be mutually exclusive, "Yes" is not logically the one correct answer. He is actually taking some risk in stating that one of the two possibilities is true. Other possibilities present themselves, such as this band suddenly disappearing off the face of the planet and everybody forgetting about them. Not likely, but possible.

Re:The answer (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552132)

+1 Taking it too far.

Re:The answer (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552320)

"such as this band suddenly disappearing off the face of the planet and everybody forgetting about them. Not likely, but possible"

Actually, it's by far the most likely option. Contract or no contract, most bands are lucky to get even one big hit, and beyond that is virtually unheard of... what's that you say? I can name tons of bands with multiple big hits? Well sure, but for every band you can namer that does, there are probably several thousand that could be named which never even had one. It's like winning the lottery, the odds are abysmal for any individual, but given a large enough number of participants SOMEBODY will do it.

wget! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551166)

do wget top40maker.mp3 done

Observer affecting the experiement (5, Insightful)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551180)

Unfortunately, now that they've gotten this extra publicity due to not being part of a big label, the results are largely meaningless. Much as I'd like to say that this signals the end of the big labels, this almost proves that you do still need them for the halo of hype that surrounds the industry. When a song or album is hugely successful for no reason other than the quality of music, then we will finally have moved on from the artificial reality created by the big music labels.

Linux end of MS, nuclear end of fossil fuels (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551620)

One TOp 40 song does not mean anything.

A sensible way to measure popularity (2, Insightful)

gearmonger (672422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551194)

I had no idea the Brits were so forward-thinking in this area.

Of course, the RIAA would never agree to legitimizing downloads like that...at least not until several more management changes happen and they get someone in their leadership who's actually owned an iPod.

Half of the record labels' power comes from... (3, Insightful)

PurifyYourMind (776223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551196)

...making artists *believe* that they (the record labels) are the only way to make it big. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

Grammar police (5, Funny)

Shippy (123643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551204)

The header should be 'Download-Only Song to Crack the Top 40'. When I first read it, I thought it was a request to download the only song ever to get into the Top 40. Which doesn't make sense for several reasons. :)

Re:Grammar police (1)

micrometer2003 (715068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551986)

I was disappointed. I thought something more comparable to NKC's "Unforgettable" would crash through this barrier first.

I told them this. (4, Insightful)

SickLittleMonkey (135315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551252)

Well, at least I told a young BMW-driving yuppie from a major label. It was back in the mid 90's. "Adapt or die" I said. "Hah! You don't know what you're talking about," he repied. "We filter out all the crap music you don't want to hear!"

Yeah, right. I now repeat: Adapt or Die!

SLM

Re:I told them this. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551358)


Yeah, right. I now repeat: Adapt or Die!


Yup... Couldn't agree more.

Most telling thing for me: From 1995 to 2004, how many CDs did I buy? One. The soundtrack to LOTR. In 2006, once I installed iTunes, how much money did I spend on music? Over $100 so far and counting. This includes some impulse buys such as:

Men At Work - picked up on a whim when I saw "Overkill" performed on Scrubs.
Tom Petty Greatest Hits - picked up on a whim when I saw "American Girl" on Scrubs
Dylan's Modern Times - saw a retrospective on NPR bought it during the show
Plus a few dozen artists I've never heard before for songs such as Loituma, some Celtic girl band that was on PBS, etc.. etc..

I would *never* have bought these in a store and the 0.99$ per song is worth the convenience for me. Yeah, I've likely parceled off a piece of my soul because of buying into DRM stuff, but I do that each time I set my house alarm for fear that some kid will break in and steal my prize bottlecap collection.

Re:I told them this. (1)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551560)

Dude, buying iTunes Music isn't progressive, iTunes is basically the record labels, shoehorned into the internet. Eventually I hope bands will use recordings purely as (freely resdistributeable) marketing, and make their money off live recordings and merch.

Re:I told them this. (1)

magicchex (898936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552278)

You saw a retrospective on NPR?

Please, teach me how to see sound on the radio.

In Polish, the band name means... (4, Funny)

BeneathTheVeil (305107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551300)

poop.

Having sampled some of the music, I must applaud them on truth in advertising.

Re:In Polish, the band name means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551394)

Yes- the word "shite" does come to mind.

Re:In Polish, the band name means... (1)

XB-70 (812342) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552474)

That's no reason to dump on them. These little shits are just out to spread it around.

Here the song (5, Informative)

sirnuke (866453) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551318)

The song is Blag, Steal, and Borrow and they have a Video [youtube.com] , if you wish to hear the song.

Re:Here the song (1, Insightful)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551414)

God, what utter SHITE!

Re:Here the song (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551470)

For those of you Slashdotters wondering, the term "blag" [wiktionary.org] means "to obtain for free, particularly by guile or persuasion." It is, unfortunately, not a clever reference to xkcd, nor is it a subtly satirical commentary on today's wired-together yet disconnected, hermitic, and egocentric blogging-obsessed youth. Oh well.

Re:Here the song (1)

DeafByBeheading (881815) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551774)

This is it? More power to them for accomplishing this, but they don't really *sound* like they're not on a major label... I was hoping a milestone like this would be led achieved by a band with a sound that felt new. Then again, maybe that's the point.

Re:Here the song (1)

savorymedia (938523) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552110)

They're not absolutely terrible but they're nothing revolutionary, either--just your basic, modern-day pop rock. Sounds like 90% of everything else on rock radio nowdays.

The drummer overplays more than a bit, though. You'd think he was either madly in love with...or was *really* pissed at...his crash cymbal.

Re:Here the song (1)

LacroixDP (759112) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552186)

I would love to listen to it, but the song on Youtube is so poorly mixed, I can't understand a single word being sung. It sounds like all the other sound they call music these days on the radio... how I long for a 24x7 Bruce Cockburn station :/

Likelihood of selling out? (3, Interesting)

Diluted (178517) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551406)

Probably slim, considering the lyrics of the music being anti-sellout...

Unless they're REALLY hypocritical, which is always possible I suppose.

Re:Likelihood of selling out? (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551798)

Kind of puts Lennon's lyrics to Imagine into perspective as well, eh?

Re:Likelihood of selling out? (1)

Skidge (316075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551898)

Well, maybe they took the hypocritic oath [penny-arcade.com] .

This must be last years news. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551410)

From this week (7th Jan, 2006), all downloaded music sales are counted in the official UK chart.

2006!

arctic monkeys (1)

bubba_the_mermaid (225049) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551430)

From my understanding, the arctic monkeys played a bunch of shows, and got a cult following of sorts. Some of their fans started bootlegging the shows and sharing them so successfully that there would be sing alongs to the choruses of "yet-to-be-released" songs.

If you believe the hype, they didn't set up their myspace page, people posted it on their behalf.

If you believe all of this, then the grassroots movement is alive and well in the UK.

Or else it could just be a form of "guerilla marketing". Either way, the band, and their manager(s) get paid.

Re:arctic monkeys (1)

westcoast philly (991705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551676)

I belive the hype.. I mean, who the f**k are the arctic monkeys?


I'm trying to find a copy locally... though I'm sure I'll find it eventually. I downloaded first, and it led to a (eventual) sale. The internet works.

Already a sell out? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551432)

I'm suspicious, this seems like it could be a manufactured media phenomenon. Their song includes lyrics about getting into the charts. Their logo is a parody of the UK's age-rating logo. Their site is really slick, it's all a bit too knowing for their "underground" image.

Their whois points to a local web design/media branding firm, maybe they just laid it on a bit thick. From their myspace:

"Listen to KOOPA and you realise that this is not that watered- down, manufactured sound designed to impress your younger brother, little sister and please your parents."

Hint: it's not cool to say you're cool.

On they other hand they supposedly come from my home town (Colchester, UK), and are gigging here tomorrow. Might as well check them out for real...

Isn't it funny (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551466)

How they sound just like every other pop punk boy band on the major labels for the last decade.

But they're not bad. That song "Hold" is pretty catchy.
http://www.myspace.com/koopa [myspace.com] (easy place to hear their stuff)

Not a bad independent achievement though. Hopefully other genres will follow.

Marketing (1)

pyr3 (678354) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551472)

Internet or not, the one thing that bands don't have is the marketing engine to consistently push their songs they way that the major labels do. The real break through for internet-only unsigned bands is when internet-only/word of mouth advertising is enough to get them into the Top 40 consistently, and on top of the record label pushed songs.

It's great that this band has made it to the top on their own, but how many other homebrew bands will be able to do this? If they are just an anomaly, then it doesn't mean much. I'm not holding my breath until this starts happening more often.

Re:Marketing (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551856)

And yet Zappa managed to make a living as an independent in the days of vinyl discs while getting virtually no radio play of his wholly uncommercial product. He paid Capital, in advance, to distribute his records.

Now you don't even have that hurdle.

Top 40 is itself is a record company scam. Part of their "buzz" machine. As an artist what you looking for is to make a living, not make the Top 40. Keep your eyes on the prize, lest someone apply missdirection and head you off on the wrong path, while keeping all the money.

KFG

Hang on a sec... (3, Funny)

Xaroth (67516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551512)

Download Only Song to Crack the Top 40

It can't be the only song to crack the top 40 - there had to have been 39 others there already! And besides, you didn't give a link to the song, so how can I download it?

Er, no wait. That's not right at all. I'll tell you what - I'll just grab a spare hyphen from my giant bag of them here, and you're free to use it wherever you like in the headline that makes it mean what you intended.

Labels are sooooo last-millenium (5, Funny)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551528)

Clearly, this is not a good millenium to be a business whose profit model consists of controlling access to information channels.

First they came for the travel agents, but I did not speak up because I am not a travel agent.
Then they came for the stockbrokers, but I did not speak up because I am not a stockbroker.
Then they came for the newspapers, but I did not speak up because I am not a newspaperman.
Then they came for the record labels, and there was great rejoicing.

Re:Labels are sooooo last-millenium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551980)

Audio Guy: "My opponents are proponents of their own components."

Re:Labels are sooooo last-millenium (1)

revolu7ion (994315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551998)

Taken from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
 
"...and they ate Robyn's Record Lables. There was much rejoicing. (yay)"

Need a Big-name label? (2, Insightful)

NoseBag (243097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551538)

"If we can get enough exposure and get in the top 40 by the end of the week, do we necessarily need a large label?"

No - if you've got $25-$50K laying around to get a few thousand cd's printed, and have a marketing team ready to burn shoe-leather talking the stores into putting the cd's on their shelves, and a management & accounting firm to press the retailers for your receipts.

Or - hire some grunts to run a print-on-demand setup, and a flunky to run a website and take orders paid by paypal while you cut tracks for a 2nd cd.

Re:Need a Big-name label? (1)

Satertek (708058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551700)

"No - if you've got $25-$50K laying around to get a few thousand cd's printed" Or spend $20 for a domain name, some web hosting and a PayPal account.

Re:Need a Big-name label? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551930)

I think you'll find the second one plus download sales to be enough. The first one's playing by their rules, a game you will NOT win out on.

Who are the good guys? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17551628)

I keep reading these articles and it always seems to come down between greedy, callous, paranoid record labels on one side, and greedy, sanctimonious, flippant music fans on the other side, with the bands in the middle trying to figure out how they can be rich and famous and retire at age 26. It's all self-serving bullshit on all sides.

There is no music industry unless someone, somewhere pays for the music, and there better be a fair number of someones to make the money worthwhile, at least for the winners of the game. You can and will get inspired amateurs willing to work for nothing, or for gig money, but you won't get the explosion of creativity that comes from lots of talented people working their butts off for years trying to reach stardom.

So, being from the USA... (3, Interesting)

lewp (95638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551696)

If I buy this CD with my USA credit card and my USA address, will it count towards the total tally?

If it'll help get them in the top 40 without major label backing, I've got two bucks (or whatever 77 pence is in dollars nowadays), but I don't really like the song very much :P.

Re:So, being from the USA... (2, Interesting)

happy*nix (587057) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552444)

I hope so.

I'm not a big music fan, but the song was lively and enjoyable. The song was avialable in DRM-free mp3 (alas no ogg) so I bought it. It is undoubtedly worth ~$1 to speed along the distruction of the existing media cartels.

Some of Koopa's other song samples didn't fit with my tastes, so thy might be a one hit wonder for me. That's ok so long as that homerun hit breaks the RIAA's windshield parked in the back lot. ;-)

It's amazing that... (2, Insightful)

greenguy (162630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551698)

a download would be the only song to crack the Top 40.

Had to be done (2, Interesting)

NewsWatcher (450241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551728)

I read recently that in the UK some artists who cater mainly for older clientelle were making it into the charts. The reason being that their aged fans did not know how to download their songs. Other more web-savvy younger users were downloading so many songs from their favourite artists that they no longer needed to by their albums, so the artists who were actually popular just didn't make the charts anymore.

This move to include download sales is not just a natural progression to indicate popularity of artists, but a commercial necessity for the music companies. How can they promote a platinum-selling artist who has only really sold a handful of albums?

Of course, if they really want to gauge the popularity of artists, they could also start to look at how many people are searching for their music at BitTorrent sites or on Limewire. Eventually this will also have to go into the mix if they want an accurate gauge of what people want to listen to.

Re:Had to be done (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552394)

Of course, if they really want to gauge the popularity of artists, they could also start to look at how many people are searching for their music at BitTorrent sites or on Limewire.

But the Top 40 is not about gauging popularity. It's about gauging sales.

Where does/could/will/whatever this lead? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551770)

Generally, I can see a few roads this can walk down.

The first, and obvious one, is that some label approaches them, dumps out a sack of greenbacks and they grab it. Who wouldn't? It's one of those win-win situations. The bands makes good money, the studios do too (and they keep the business free from the stain of non-labeled success), sure, the customer loses in that deal, but then, who cares 'bout him?

The less obvious, more the 'deamer' version, is that the label approaches them and receives the finger. That would get them a ton of exposure for sure, and probably quite a few people who'd just buy their stuff, whether they like it or not, just for the sake that they told the label to count to four in binary with their fingers. I could see the RIAA to respond with a lot of red tape and pulling out some songs to claim they are copying something and make them spend more time in court than in studios to silence them.

And then there's of course the possibility that the labels themselves see the new venue of selling content without the expense of pressed CDs. I predict a botched job, as usual, but I'm almost certain they'll try to copy the idea.

INTERNET PENETRATION NOT 100% (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551834)

I know this is a difficult concept to get your head around, but there are some people that do not download music. There are some people that do not have access to the Internet for entertainment.

The question for this band is "Can you live without these people?" If the answer is yes, then they are headed in the right direction.

So far, the answer has been a resounding "No way".

Re:INTERNET PENETRATION NOT 100% (1)

dtzWill (936623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552358)

There are some people that do not have access to the Internet...
..."Can you live without these people?" If the answer is yes
You must be new here. :-)

what I would do (2, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551846)

If it got to the top 40, if I was them, I would totally make a recording company meet to talk over dinner at a fancy restaurant and pretend to be interested then say I'll be right back then get up and moon them and run out on the bill. I think their popularity would drop simply by selling out so they're right, they don't need some big, greedy, money whores breathing down their necks telling them what to do and where to go and all that BS.

At last (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17551894)

This has been tried a few times before but this time by a band with a good enough song to make it. I hope they don't sell out and that they make the top 10. That would cause major heart problems throughout the RIAA. More power to this band and I hope they make it.

Re: Download Only Song to Crack the Top 40 (2, Funny)

Franklin Brauner (1034220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552252)

"Is this finally the crack in the dam we've all been waiting for to wash away the entrenched monopolies of 20th century music production? Or just a sell-out waiting to happen?" No pressure.

Still need good production and promotion (2, Interesting)

Timbotronic (717458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552430)

Not yet. I think the Slashdot crowd massively underestimates the impact that experienced producers and recording techs have on music quality and popularity (not that the 2 always go together). Then of course there's good management and yes, marketing.

Of course there will be times when a band/artist gets enough right to make the charts (or even just a decent living) independently. However, there's an obvious problem with this idea that bands should just record their own music, put it out there and then allow market forces to pick the best stuff.

What if they can't afford a decent studio, or don't have the discipline to do enough takes until the sound is right, or the drummer sucks? Good production has turned a lot of bad music into good. An artist can be incredibly gifted musically but that doesn't mean they know the best way to record their music, or the point where a guitar solo stretches from cool to self indulgent wankery.

I think the tide will turn, but it needs to involve more people than just the artists themselves. I think we'll need to see a bunch of small to medium level labels dedicated to talent scouting, production, recording tech, management and marketing before the biggies start to get squeezed.

there can be real value in big labels... (3, Interesting)

tjr (908724) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552566)

There can be real value in big labels. What if, say, the Beatles had tried to make it without a label. Would they be able to succeed today? Maybe. But part of what made them so great was the contributions made by folks like their producer George Martin and the various sound engineers they worked with. They added real tangible value to the music, especially as the Beatles started wanting more complex arrangements. They might not have ever come together if not for the recording label that employed Martin and the engineers. On the other hand, today we have so much great music technology that it's much easier to make a whole wonderful recording without leaving your bedroom. But you still have to know how to use that technology. Some bands do. Some do not. For those that do not, the labels may still offer some benefits. That said, some of the labels also seem to offer other things that aren't necessarily beneficial to the artists...

Wow, great, something new... (2, Insightful)

cdw38 (1001587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17552568)

Wow, so an independent artist hit the UK Top 40. Good for them. Ever heard of the Grateful Dead? How about Phish? Both sold out huge venues across the nation (and world) without the help of any major label for a combined 30+ years before the internet even showed up for the vast majority of America, let alone the mp3 format and broadband and online music distribution.

And now? With the .mp3 format and the internet and the whole "information age," what big independent act is around to follow in those footsteps? Koopa? Sure, there are independent "jam" acts all over the place trying to fill that void (Umphrey's McGee [umphreys.com] , Gov't Mule [mule.net] , Tea Leaf Green [tealeafgreen.com] , String Cheese Incident [stringcheeseincident.com] as well as smaller acts like Soldiers of Jah Army [sojamusic.com] and The Bridge [thebridgemusic.com] ) but, even with the help of the information age and the internet, have yet to really take off.

"...do we necessarily need a large label? Probably nowadays, no you don't." No, you don't. The Dead proved that over 30 years ago. Also proved you don't need the internet or any fancy information age form of communication, either.

Don't get me wrong. The most powerful way (especially for independent musicians) to get your music out is word of mouth. And sure, cell phones and the internet and sites like the Internet Archive [archive.org] all help, but likely it will still take a friend to tell you they saw [insert band here] and really liked them for you to do anything about it or to take notice of said artist. Great, so bands have websites and people can go there and possibly download music, or buy their CDs, or read all about them. People still need to have some motivation to go to that website.

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