The simple answer to James’ titular question “Will Lembit have me arrested?” (for re-posting his Daily Sport articles on Prawn Free Lembit) is “No”. Lembit might be slightly off the wall, but he is not clinically insane. But I can see the logical extension in James’ mind. Lembit spoke up for Madelson’s plan to switch off illegal file sharers. It’s a logical next step for James to be clamped in irons for copying Lembit’s Sporty bon mots.
James makes some interesting points:
The death of the music industry – which is a real possibility – will not mean the death of music. Music existed before copyright laws and it will exist long after them as well. People won’t suddenly stop making music. What it will probably mean is the death of the superstar.
Well yes. The first caveman who came up with an interesting beat with his stick on a pig’s bladder didn’t get paid. He may have been given a couple of drops of a base intoxicating liquor by an appreciative fellow cave dweller. And did whoever come up with “Greensleeves” get paid? It’s been sung billions of times. I am surprised the PRS for Music aren’t onto this one.
I would have thought that we’ll see a very different music industry emerging the future. I very much doubt whether we’ll see its death.
Where I feel somewhat at a tangent from James is that his remarks tend to address the rich end of the music industry spectrum. Perhaps this is not surprising, since the recent examples of copyright dilemmas I’ve heard of in the media have been at the “top end”.
Cliff Richard brought out the violins to complain that he was losing the rights to records he made over 50 years ago. Presumably he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to afford another vineyard. Ironically, one of the first of his records to “cop it” and go out of copyright was “Move it”, recorded in February 1959 at Abbey Road studios. I say “ironically” because it is, IMHO, the only decent record he has ever made (although I have to give “The Day I met Marie” a bit of a passingly respectful nod). If he deserves the performing proceeds to any of his records it is “Move it”, which he doesn’t (have the rights to the proceeds anymore, that is).
Then we had the example of Pete Waterman. Not short of a penny, is our Pete, I would have thought (at least if he’s wisely invested the spondoolicks from his ‘Stock, Aitken and Waterman’ years). But he set off a campaign against YouTube on the basis that he had only, allegedly, received only £11 in 2008 for producing Never Gonna Give You up by Rick Astley, which received, he claimed, 100 million plays on YouTube.
On a slightly different note, there have also been unfortunate incidents about royalty payments, which have hit the headlines. Gary Glitter reportedly may have received substantial royalties after a computer company bungled and used a Joan Jett cover version of “Do you wanna touch me” in an ad. They pulled the advert when they realised that Glitter was entitled to royalties because he wrote the song.
And then we had the very unsavoury image of Jonathan King, fresh out of clink, crowing about getting megabucks for the use of “It’s Good News week” on a Channel Four series.
So the headlines have not been good on this subject. They’ve concentrated on the very rich and the dodgy musicians and performers.
So let me name a few names of people I think do deserve royalties and who don’t deserve to be ripped off due to internet piracy. Kevin Ayres. Neil Arthur. Sally Oldfield. Sandy Shaw. Gerry Rafferty. Sam Brown. Glenn Gregory. Dan le Sac. Martin Fry. Robert Wyatt. Some of them have been famous for a little while. But they are not stars now. They are certainly not “superstars”. Far from it. They are the type of people who rely on royalties, often for songs they wrote or recorded many years ago, to keep on performing, or just live from day to day. (Many of them have posted on this site – Fair Play for Creators).
So it is these sorts of people – and thousands of working musicians like them, that I feel we ought to focus on. Not the “superstars”.
So I think Lembit makes a fair point when he says:
Most musicians and and songwriters aren’t loaded, especially if they’re just starting out. If they don’t get paid they can’t make music, it’s as simple as that.
He is also pretty convincing when he says:
With over 20 LEGAL online services in theUK, like iTunes and Spotify, you can download legally without wrecking the industry.
Indeed. You can get most tunes free and legal on Spotify.
Coming back to James, he goes off on one here:
Will it be possible to make money as a musician in the future? It all depends on what your aspirations are. Any halfway successful musician will be able to make several multiples of what I’ll earn in my lifetime, but there’ll be a lot fewer multi-millionaires. You probably won’t ever get that private jet I’m afraid. The simple fact are only so many punters out there and talent is nothing like as hard to come by as Smash Hits and NME led us to believe. They lied.
But is rendering musician to the status of mere vocation such a terrible thing? Money has destroyed so many talents over the years that it is hard to shed a tear for the decline of the superstar. Is it really so wonderful that popular music has become so strongly associated with excess, mental illness, vanity, self-abasement and violence? More musicians earning less money is a scenario in which 99% of us win.
I really think James is seeing the music industry through the wrong end of a telescope. The overwhelming bulk of musicians are scraping a living, if that. This obsession with “multi-millionaires” is really misleading. And starting to bring “superstar” deaths into it is a distraction. Fine, we’ll see the decline of the superstar. But that’s not the issue. The issue are the thousands of unknowns scraping a living who rely on the proceeds from a few of their songs or records to get by. It’s those people who are, quite rightly, motivating the PRS for Music with their campaign against internet piracy.
I should mention that I don’t agree with the Mandelson “switch off” plan either. But sooner or later people who illegally share files on a grand scale should expect some form of reckoning.