From DB (post in progress)

Most people don’t know it, but when you pay for major label music you’re supporting some pretty nasty stuff. It boils down to two main points:

1) The major labels pay radio stations to play their songs. This is sketchy in itself–shouldn’t the music on the radio just be the best stuff? But the worst part is it means other labels are locked out of radio. If musicians don’t sign an exploitative contract with one of the majors, they don’t get on the radio.

2) This fall the major labels starting suing fans. So far, they’ve sued over 300 people, mostly working families with young children. And they say the suits will continue indefinitely. Whatever you think about filesharing, it’s just not okay for giant corporations to sue people with kids, living paycheck to paycheck, who can’t afford a defense. The lawsuits are literally pushing families into bankruptcy.

I have about 50 of these stickers, and I’m going to be making another (much larger) order very soon. [info]liquidab, [info]dirtybunny and I are going to be hitting some of the major retail stores before the x-mas rush, and we welcome and encourage anyone else who wants to contribute to our renegade sticker-the-fuck-out-of-walmart-and-hmv operation. If you want to get some stickers, you can order them at Downhill Battle, or you can contact me and I’ll add your order to my next one. The more people that order, the cheaper they’ll be.

42 thoughts on “From DB (post in progress)

  1. They say you can print your own, I can give you at least 1000 blank labels if you want. They are 3 1/2″ x 15/16″ address lables.

  2. that’s a great campaign…

    something about them paying radio stations to essentially advertise their products … shouldn’t that undermine licencing arguments?
    disturbing.

    Suing 12 year olds makes the RIAA worse than any other mafia.

  3. the thing is…that although I agree with you that litigation against the fans is the wrong way to solve the problem, some of these “families” each have well over $300,000 dollars worth of music on their hard drives or more for file sharing purposes.

    The majors are not concerned about the artists, the fans or the music, they are only trying to defend their “bottom line” and god help you if these “sharks” come to get you.

    I dont agree with the lawsuits but I also think that some of those families brought it on them selves, if you think that sooner or later nobody will care that you have half a million dollars worth of music on your hardrive that you either shared or got for free on the internet, then you get what’s coming to you.

    I think the music industry should revive the audio cassette.

  4. re: $300,000

    an average cd costs $15-20
    of this, maybe $5 goes to the store,
    probably a dollar in plastic and shipping,
    about $0.50 goes to the person who actually wrote the music
    and maybe a dollar to the performers…
    the rest supports the advertising and litigation machine
    that is the Music Companies …

    by downloading music, these people are cutting out the middle man – eliminating the need for packaging and retail outlets – which account for almost half the cost of a CD.

    ‘Protecting their bottom line’ is no excuse:
    that’s the same reason Americans are killing Iraqis.

  5. Why? So I can go buy one labelled copy and then let all my friends copy directly from the original?

    It and they (being the Music Mafia – kinda like the trenchcoat mafia but greedy sobs) aren’t addressing the problem but rather the symptom. By doing so, they shirk certain implied responsibilities and obligations. One of those is to have artists produce quality material as opposed to quantity. But rather than taking pressure off of the artists, which they own and direct at their leisure, it’s so much the better to go after a person that ‘is costing the industry’.
    Come on now. Leave the families alone; especially the lower income ones. All that the RIAA is showing them is that they are greedy sons of dogs without an ounce of humanity within them as the all mighty dollar drives their existence. How does that help the industry or the artist by driving potential consumers (and their social networks) away?

    I am personally confident that if the overall quality of the content increased, then so would sales. In short, stop selling me crap. If I want crap, I’ll use the can.

    T.Oni

  6. Regarding #1 what about College/University Radio?

    I will admit I haven’t listened to the Radio in a while, especially Ottawa U, but they do play stuff that you won’t hear on mainstream radio ie The Bear.

  7. I would imagine #1 refers only to commercial radio stations.
    Community radio stations (like ottawa’s 2 university radio stations) are supported by funding drives.

    I wonder what proportion of revenue income from advertising represents for top40 stations these days? they all seem to be owned by the same three corporations…

  8. it disturbs me that instead of looking at the data and seeing that CD sales were at their height during Napster’s heyday – and relating that to this new way for people to discover new music… they are instead trying to change from a product model to a service model – where instead of buying a CD, record, 8-track or cassette tape of our favorite recording, and being able to listen to it whenever we want, as many times as we like; they want us to pay for every time we listen to the music.

  9. i forgot to factor in that some of that cd cost
    goes to building recording studios
    and to lining the pockets of record company executives
    … some of whom probably personally make a dollar from every album sold, regardless of artist.

  10. some of these “families” each have well over $300,000 dollars worth of music on their hard drives or more for file sharing purposes

    Certainly. And this is representative of a problem in the way we value music. I have an 80gb hard drive, and probably close to five thousand songs on my PC, give or take a few thousand. If you value music as 20$ a CD, I’ve got a pretty large amount.

    I dont agree with the lawsuits but I also think that some of those families brought it on them selves, if you think that sooner or later nobody will care that you have half a million dollars worth of music on your hardrive that you either shared or got for free on the internet, then you get what’s coming to you.

    I respectfully disagree. I don’t think I have anything coming to me, really. I support musicians as a DJ, a promoter, a content creator, and as a consumer. Obviously, this is not the norm, but I understand the mentality that people have regarding online music, and I think that ultimately, it’s healthy. There needs to be a shift in the way that labels think about distribution, and compensation for work. As someone who writes, designs, and occasionally writes a song, I don’t have a problem with thousands of people all over the world having copies of my work. If I choose to turn my creative expression into a business, then I need to find a working business model. I can’t expect the world to pay me just because I think they should. My work is only valued at whatever the market chooses to pay for it, and if the market chooses to download it, then I had better find a new way to make money with it.

  11. about $0.50 goes to the person who actually wrote the music.

    0.50 x 300,000 = 150,000 money that the artists (specially independent artists) could use to support him/her self and continue to make a living.

    by downloading music, these people are cutting out the middle man – eliminating the need for packaging and retail outlets

    …and eliminating the need to pay the artists for their time and effort.

    I agree with you, it’s not an excuse, but unfortunately the “bottom line” is a reality, it may not what YOU belive in but it’s what the majority of HUMANITY belives in, or at least that’s what history has shown us to be the case.

  12. what downloading/copying music WILL and IS doing is making the major labels and small labels only sign acts that have formulas and/or proven sales specially since about 40% of sales are down for the major labels and 75% of sales are down for independent labels, therefore eliminating artists that may actually have original and inovative artistic endevours. so if and when you go to a “music” store all you will find is the crap you hate, but it’s becasue of downloading and copying that only mindless crap that sells will be made readily available, it’s already started to happen, within the next 10 years at the rate were going, you will see the small and independent labels fade out and the majors will still be active, mainly casue they have more money to survive the downloading/copying crisis then the smaller and independent labels. So until a new media outlet is created that will allow small independent artists to make a living doing their art all we will get is crap, so for the next 20 years we should prepare for NO inovation and only re-hashed and re-done music to filter through. But there’s nothing anybody can do, it’s already too late to fix the problem, so all we can do now is live with it.

  13. I’ve said before there’s really nothing we can do about the problem until a new media medium is created or until there are no more labels and music is just free for everyone.

    So as a designer & artists you dont mind giving out your work for free?? I hope you realize that there are people making a living doing art. I’m not sure what YOU do for a living but i’m sure that if you truly loved what you did for a living and that was taken away from you and you were forced to do something else you would feel differently. I’m not talking Metalica money, I’m talking just getting by money.

    I’m actually looking forward to a future were all forms of art are free, free music, free paintings, free photography, free movies, free sculptures, art will loose the magic it once did, but the idea of billions of people sharing free art that all looks, feels and sounds the same intrigues me, a form of collective world art.

  14. So as a designer & artists you dont mind giving out your work for free?? I hope you realize that there are people making a living doing art. I’m not sure what YOU do for a living but i’m sure that if you truly loved what you did for a living and that was taken away from you and you were forced to do something else you would feel differently.

    Of course. My primary cash flow has been as a designer/artist for the past few years, and I agree that I should be able to make a fair living in that field — but what I mean is more that it’s my responsibility as an artist to market myself, and ensure that I have a means to receive financial compensation for my work. As an artist, I sell works freelance, or enter into contracts to produce works for set fees. If I produce digital prints and put them in stores for 20$ a CD of .jpgs, and people start downloading and trading my work online without buying the CDs, I need to figure out a new way to make money from my work. I’m not going to blame the people trading the files for the fact that my revenue stream is unworkable.

  15. 0.50 x 300,000 = 150,000 money
    0.50 per CD, not 50 cents of every dollar.
    = more like $7500 being split between 150,000 artists.

    the interesting thing about royalties,
    is that artists get paid by groups like SOCAN (in Canada)
    based on worldwide radio airplay. {Which, as we see from point number one in the original post, is a rigged game – paid for by the pop music publishers.} Musicians and composers play dues into this thing, and only a small percentage ever see a fat cheque.
    The other people who pay into this are restaurants, bars, etc. anywhere that wants to have public performance of recorded music -music that has been purchased in cd form – unless they subscribe to a digital radio service, in which case the service provider pays the royalty fee, establishments are required by law to pay. And that money doesn’t get back to the artists which they are playing unless they are playing nothing but the top 100 singles. That, however, is unrelated to the issue of P2P filesharing – but is interesting to note that current structures for paying intellectual-copyright-holders do not work.

    I think what people are ‘protesting’ by downloading music instead of buying it is that artists are only making single-digit percentage points of actual consumer dollars spent.
    … and there’s got to be a better way.
    All of this seems to discourage true creativity imo
    Believe me, I want to pay artists for their time and effort, I just don’t want to pay music companys for their exploitive practises. It’s not a protest against capitialism in general (“what the majority of HUMANITY belives in“) just against a monolythic middle-man monopoly on publishing ideas.

  16. wow… you live in Bogota?
    I’ve been to Panama, but I digress…

    correction to above: $300,000 spent on CDs
    = $7500 split between 15,000 artists
    based on assumptions: $20/cd and artists
    only making $0.50 on each copy sold.

  17. art that all looks, feels and sounds the same
    – ewwwwwwwww.
    a world of homogenic art sounds like hell to me.

    ‘getting by money’ sounds like the just the kind of direct artist-to-consumer model that file-sharing is an evolutionary step towards. You want a new media medium ? The internet is IT.

  18. i disagree:
    downloading/copying music allows people access to more variety and diversity than the formulaic stuff on the radio. whether the publishing companies allow that to affect their actions or not.
    Peoples tastes are diverse, and that is what gets missed by the pop music paradigm.

  19. seems reasonable. digital technology is making things really easy for us artists but it also has it’s drawbacks. I guess it’s always been that way.

  20. Like SOCAN, we also have similar publishing companies in the U.S. however there are many independent artists & labels that do get paid for every copy sold and in turn do get hurt for much more by internet downloads and CD-R copying, this is perticularly the case with many underground electronic & alternative music lables and artists.

    I agree I dont think the current “monolythic middle-man monopoly” is something we should support but by taking out the HEAD (Major Labels) we are also killing the BODY (Independents) and many people dont see it that way, but in a matter of ten or so years you will see this to be the case, feel free to ask any Independent Label and or Artists publishing, manufacturing, and distributing their own material how their sales have been this year.

  21. wow… you live in Bogota?
    I’ve been to Panama, but I digress…

    No, I was born in Bogota, unfortunately I have not been back for almost 20 years. Panama is a beautiful country and the Panamanian people rock!!

  22. yes they do… one of them gave birth to my cousin Shay,
    and is pregnant with boy #2. Her name is Karina, and she’s gorgeous.
    My aunt is younger than me… my uncle is a lucky man. ;)

  23. I my opinion, what copying music, regardless of the means (tape or electonic) does is create a scenario where the supplier/distributor (read: label) is put in a position where they are shown that we as consumers will determine what we want and will not settle for low quality material.
    When I go the the grocery store to get 4L of milk, I expect to be able to ingest safely and even enjoy (because I like milk) 4L of it as that is the content I paid for. A similar philosophy applies to books. When I buy a 300+ page novel, I expect to be able to read the words on each and every page. I don’t want smudging. What the music industry, as well as others, have been pushing forward is the notion that quality control or assurance is not something that can be done as such they cannot be held accountable. Most corporations also love to deal in the realm of ‘possible revenue’ as opposed to the hard and fast reality. What I as a fairly reasonable consumer will do is if I hear a CD and that CD has at least 60% quality material to me, I will buy it. If it’s less, it ain’t gonna happen but I’m still gonna get my hands on the tracks that I want.
    Now if we were to consider this purely from a business/financial point of view, fine. I want labels to start paying me for the market research that I have provided to them on their behalf on my time. I want labels to pay me for my advertising of their product that I have done. Where’s my paycheck?
    Sure you could respond by saying ‘but it doesn’t work that way’ to which my reponse is ‘Yes it does! That’s where the successful businesses are found. That’s where the enduring bands are found. It’s when the producer of an item, be it intellectual or physical realises that if they wish their product to be consumed in exchange for monetary compensation, then there must be an understanding of the target market and a willingness to deliver/cater to what the consumer wants.
    Now before I stop ranting (yes Jai, I know I’m ranting), I have a favour to ask of you:
    For the statistics that you threw around above, can you quote your sources through independent means or are they controlled by major labels?
    And there is also the matter of the ‘music apocalypse’ that you’re suggesting. There is a solution: it involves the Supplier understanding its role in the supply/demand chain and fulfilling it as the supplier. It’s about taking the money they have and taking their pools of talent and saying ‘Guys, this is the money you’ll get when we get from you prime material. Take your time and make it gold’. None of this X records in x years tripe. Such a ‘brilliant'(?) manuever, were it ever to be pulled successfully, would revitalize the industry by renovating it.

    It’s 2:30 am and I should sleep before work… I’m sleepy. Good points even if I don’t agree with them. Cuz I’m a commercial terrorist…

    T.Oni

  24. Check your math….300,000? Even if you ‘bought’ individual tracks from the new ‘napster’ then to value $300,000 you would need to down load 300,000 songs (let alone half a million). If the average pop song is about three minutes, and that condenses to about 3 megs. So let’s do the math, shall we? 300,000 * 3megs = 900 gigs. You know anyone with 900 gigs of hard drive in their home?

  25. As I see it, the goal of this stickering campaign is to slow down CD sales and hurt the major labels. However, people wanting to buy a christmas present of little Johnny or Sally’s favourite CD aren’t going to be swayed by a sticker.. they’re probably just going to find another copy of the CD without a sticker on it. People who are in mindless-consumer-mode don’t consider the politics of how they spend their money anymore, they just spend.

    Don’t get me wrong; the premise is a good one. I just don’t see having a sticker campaign being all that effective. And I haven’t heard any practical alternatives in the above conversation to the current system of labels owning artists’ material. I mean, we all know that artists are being taken advantage of, but no one has a decent solution for it. Jairus, I agree when you say that if the current promotion and distribution scheme invites predation by labels and consumer piracy, the onus is on the artists to come up with a scheme that is fair for them. At the same time though, the onus is on us to support the artists, financially and otherwise, when they try to come up with a better plan.

    So while the end is justified, I don’t think stickering is the most effective means. Either is piracy. What would be more effective would be supporting those artists that wish to commodify their music directly in some fashion, thereby cutting out the labels completely.

  26. As I see it, the goal of this stickering campaign is to slow down CD sales and hurt the major labels.

    The goal of the stickering campaign, as I see it, is primarily to raise awareness of the tactics and methods used by the major labels, and bring it into the public consciousness. If said awareness causes people to not support them and their products, then so be it.

    I mean, we all know that artists are being taken advantage of, but no one has a decent solution for it.

    I’m not so sure that’s the case. I think there’s a lot of labels and distro companies that are working with models that are effective solutions for the problems facing major label music. Obviously, there’s no one solution, but I think there are a lot of workable models that are emerging, and more that will evolve from those.

    At the same time though, the onus is on us to support the artists, financially and otherwise, when they try to come up with a better plan.

    I would limit that statement to the artists that are taking the effort to work to find a better way of doing business. I feel no responsibility to support an artist that is supporting (implicitly or otherwise) the mafia-style extortion tactics of the RIAA. And really, it hurts my heart to withdraw my support for many of these artists that I’ve respected and held in high esteem for years, be it Reznor or Kraftwerk.

    So while the end is justified, I don’t think stickering is the most effective means.

    Agreed. It’s not the most effective, but it’s an accessible, direct means of getting the information out there, and making a very public statement about how strongly I and other people feel about this issue.

    What would be more effective would be supporting those artists that wish to commodify their music directly in some fashion, thereby cutting out the labels completely.

    100% agreed. The best thing that anyone can do to help the situation is support the artists they love, if the artists are supporting their fans — and if the artists aren’t taking the high road, then the best thing you can do is let them and other people who have an investment in the music know exactly what you think.

  27. In regards to having a lot of dowloaded music on a hard drive.. I am in argeement with the whole idea of quality control. I download that which I am unsure about or which is on a album with only one or two tracks I actually want. I also have a ton of music I have since purchased, or purchased originally but have had the CD stolen, or lost in one move or another.
    This whole issue of sueing over downloaded music reminds me of the debates over whether or not people would buy music that was on the radio, since they could tape it. In the end, its been pretty mcuh proven that radio did a lot for the music industry.
    In the end, this is my sage little piece of advice. Download to test and support those artists (by purchasing products) that you truely enjoy and think are worth while.

    That’s my two cents.
    Thanks to Twinn for bringing this to our attention :)

  28. “therefore eliminating artists that may actually have original and inovative artistic endevours”

    No, only traditional music marketing methods won’t sell their CD’s. They will have to find new and interesting way to market their music, or take a day job and do music out of love for it.

    The best method is to focus on the live show, where the “real money” is. Through merch sales. this is what traditionally kept most bands afloat.

    Also, what indie labels are loosing money hand over fist? I’m interested as I haven’t heard of all that many losing huge amounts of money.

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