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Anonymous asked:

You know how you said no one bought Nemeses? Well, that was one of your songs that I ripped off your Bandcamp page. You said you could name your own price and I named mine at $0. I'm sorry :( I'm gonna go buy it now

This is totally what I was afraid of. Totally didn’t want to guilt trip anyone.

When I do the “Name Your Own Price” it’s totally on me, and there’s nothing wrong with you getting it for $0. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with you stealing it, which I’ve been pretty open and honest about. It’s just that, as Jonathan Coulton said, the paid downloads subsidize the freeloaders.

So you may be thinking, why shouldn’t I just steal the song and have someone else subsidize it so Walt can survive somehow. Well, that’s totally OK. That’s what the subway guitar player is basically saying, or the take-a-penny-give-a-penny grocery store jar is saying. It’s even what the waitress at your local coffee shop is saying: “you don’t have to tip me and I’ll still serve you, but I have to make this money from somewhere or I die.” So it’s your call, and I’m cool either way with how you pay me, or share my music, or hate me, or download it for free without sharing it.

I’ll still be here rocking out for you. And I’ll still be your friend. It’s totally cool.

I do the “Name Your Own Price” sometimes thinking that it will help with passing it around or ironically increasing purchases (or averaging payments higher than $1).

But the main point, that you can’t plan it, is still there - the idea that some things work out and some weeks don’t. Some pieces get lots of shares and no purchases, and others get few shares but high purchases.

Just like the paid supporters offset the freeloaders, my $500 week subsidize the $10 weeks. The trick is just to not have four $10 weeks in a row, or else the well dries up. There are some weeks I’m scared because I’m depending on a “hit” week to make up for a song that was requested but didn’t sell. It’s like gambling but with music arrangement choices and hoping everything works in the end. It’s crazy haha.

There’s no way of knowing what will happen each week, and there’s no way of knowing which model works best: freemium, $1, name your own price, singles vs. CDs, itunes vs amazon, Madeon vs. Katy Perry, full orchestra vs. piano concerto, etc.

These decisions drive me both clinically insane, but somehow keep me in check, too.

Legal Vs. Moral

Music downloads have gotten a lot of coverage this decade, so here’s what I think: something being legal is subjective, whereas something being moral is objective. That much I know - and everything else I’m pretty clueless about.

Like , in Pennsylvania, it’s illegal to sleep on top of a refrigerator outside. But just because it’s the law doesn’t make it morally wrong because I don’t think you would publicly (or personally) be labeled a bad person for doing that. However, stealing money from your relative is objectively an immoral thing that nobody would argue otherwise.

The problem is that stealing music isn’t the same as stealing money. There’s no transaction or loss of revenue.

So downloading music might be illegal by law, but as times change then so do people’s perceptions, attitudes, and morals. And this is important to understand, because at one time it was illegal to practice witchcraft (or gay marriage, or recreational marajuana), but as times changed then that law eventually adapted. So now the internet is doing that to videos, pictures, and music while the law tries to catch up.

But before I continue my point, consider this scenario: if you walked down the street and saw someone playing guitar, you legally wouldn’t have to throw money in their tipjar. However, if you were dancing, singing, laughing, and loving that song they performed then tipping them would certainly be the moral thing to do.

Now in the case of downloading music: people passionately believe it’s not immoral to steal it. And I don’t frown this decision.

Now people will say that stealing music is like stealing a performer’s tipjar, which isn’t accurate. When you steal someone’s tipjar you stole their money. However, when you steal a song the musician doesn’t lose money. Like, if you steal my music it’s not like I slowly see my bank account dwindle. The reality is that nothing has changed. And that’s what makes this so brain-crushingly crazy to me to wrap my head around on whether it’s right or wrong.

Pricing a song $1 is just some arbitrary cost the world settled on. Why isn’t it worth $100? Or 20 cents? Since it’s digital, it has no real-world value. But if you analyze the supply chain and parts that had to come together to make the product, and then divide it by the potential demographic audience, then you would know what to price it at.

There are two parts to a music sale - the cost before the song came to market, and the cost afterwards. All the people like lawyers, graphic designers, producers, performers, etc. get paid beforehand. So when you steal music, then those people aren’t hurt because they already got paid. It’s the people afterwards that get hurt (the songwriter, publishers, etc.).

However, the lawyers and graphic designers that I mentioned before do get hurt somewhat because if musicians can’t make money then their client list dries up.

Now this is where I get lost, because I don’t know where I stand on this issue. If everyone gave away their work for free then their community would vanish because the content creators wouldn’t be able to eat. But since it’s digital, then you can afford to give away 1 million copies and it wouldn’t hurt you. But what if you gave it away as a loss-leader?

Or what if writing music isn’t supposed to be a career? If it’s supposed to be a hobby, then what happen to the quality of what goes into our ears?

Anyway, my head hurts from overthinking this stuff.

Vero! You don’t have to buy my music twice. Although that was a very heartwarming and re-assuring letter.

Once is enough haha. If the arrangement sucked or it wasn’t your style then no way do I expect anyone (whether my music or someone else’s) to pay for mediocre and crappy products.

It’s just that the stealing - which I’ve been very vocal about - is killing me (both mentally and financially as I’m clinging on to try and make ends meet).

But I’ve also been vocal in saying that people who steal music aren’t criminals. So I think it’s a moral vs. legal issue. Like, maybe this 21st century that we’re entering makes “stealing” music viewed as morally right. But then how can people eat? How will painter’s sell their pictures online if people photocopy them instead? How will P90x sell exercise DVD’s if people upload them onto Youtube?

Here’s the thing - stealing is needed. It’s why Creative Commons works. It’s why Alex Day and Jonathan Coulton’s music is so popular online. Those who steal are still spreading the message, and over time they become paying fans. But how long until that happens?

And what if the freeloaders outnumber the supporters? Well, then it ends. Everything. Not just my music (this isn’t about me), but also every picture, videogame, song, and book you’ve ever came across.

I talk more about this here:

When the content creators can’t make a living, then the content dies. And when the content dies, then the community evaporates. And when the communities are gone, then the social network and entire ecosystem vanishes. Overnight.

In some reality, it would be best to have been a composer in the year 1990 or 2020, because the time between those years is this transition where there’s no “stable ground” yet. So maybe we have to get over this hump, who knows?

But it’s a crazy time we live in. I’ve stolen stuff (6th paragraph). So have you. We all have. So no one really knows what to do with these new consumer behaviors. It’s scary to me that I don’t know, because I’m just in the middle of it.

becausemagichappens:

byzantienne:

sassy-shipper-kayk-summii:

circlique:

thats-so-uke:

SCREAMS LOUDLY

HOLY CRAP.

SCREECHES 

THIS IS AAMAZING.

a) there is an orchestral version of Gangnam Style; b) the orchestral version is AMAZING; c) the orchestral version kind of proves that Psy is an actual musical genius; d) not surprising, his degree’s from Berklee

THIS IS PRETTY EPIC.  Downloading off youtube NOW.

Please don’t download it off of Youtube. I spent 80 hours making that song for your enjoyment. It only costs a $1, of which I’ll only receive 30 cents of that.

If Cyber Bob illegally downloads Digital Joe’s song from the Internet, it’s crucial to recognize that, in most cases, Joe hasn’t lost anything. For starters, we should stop trying to shoehorn the 21st-century problem of illegal downloading into a moral and legal regime that was developed with a pre- or mid-20th-century economy in mind.

Stuart P. Green: When Stealing Isn’t Stealing - NYTimes.com

via rugnetta

(via kenyatta)

Digital makes it a different game now.

Gotye ‘Somebody I Used to Know’ isn’t creative commons licensed, but because of WOTE’s cover song Gotye shot to #1 on the charts. That’s how the internet works, in some reality. 80% of my income is from people purchasing my orchestra music, and they tell me they found it from torrents or other outlets. People who love my work and other’s work, understand that if we don’t make money then everything stops.

Everyone “steals”: from video converting, hotlinking pictures, mashups, torrents, sharing music, etc. The internet is a group remix of creativity, mashups, and guerilla sharing. It’s fascinating.

But even if you wanted to make the argument about “digital stealing”, then consider this: the problem isn’t THAT people steal, it’s WHY people steal…

Why do people steal groceries or items from a store? I think it’s because of the understaffed stores, horrible UI of self-checkouts, and insanely slow lines.

The problem isn’t that people don’t want to buy merchandise online, the problem is that corporations have made purchasing entertainment online so much more difficult (and a worse library selection) than getting it illegally within seconds.

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