Friday, August 15, 2008

Download This Song -- Two Years Later

Hey Mr. Record Man
The joke's on you
Running your label
Like it was 1992
Hey Mr. Record Man,
Your system can't compete
It's the New Artist Model
File transfer complete
MC Lars' 2006 Internet hit "Download This Song" articulated the disconnect between the major records and the rise of downloading music consumers.

Two recent court decisions made me wonder how far we've come since MC Lars first penned his song.

So Warner, EMI, hear me clearly
Universal Music, update your circuitry
They sue little kids downloading hit songs
They think that makes sense
When they know that it's wrong

The RIAA continues to sue right and left, but the tide is shifting. Several cases are under review because of the questionable practices of MediaSentry, the security company that either is or isn't an investigative agency depending on the case.

I know I'm rhyming fast, but the message is clear
You don't need a million dollars to launch a career
If your style is unique and you practice what you preach
Minor Threat and Jello both have things to teach!
I've got G5 production, concept videos
Touring with a laptop, rocking packed shows
The old-school major deal? It makes no sense
Indentured servitude, the costs are too immense!
I've talked about truly indie artists like Jonathan Coulton and the Mason Brothers before, but the exception is increasingly becoming the rule. And why not? How much do you want to net from your music sales -- 90% on your own, or 12% as an artist signed to a major label?
Their finger's in the dam but the crack keeps on growing
Can't sell bottled water when it's freely flowing
And now the another piece of the puzzle falls into place. The federal appeals court ruled on a landmark case involving freeware. Bottom line -- freeware and creative commons licenses may not have money attached to them, but if it doesn't mean they're not protected. So all those musicians who've made their songs available for non-commercial use (which increases their popularity) are still legally entitled to the benefits from any commercial usage.

So now it's even easier to make money by giving things away.
You know, we just wanted a level playing field.
You've overcharged us for music for years, and now we're
Just trying to find a fair balance. I hate to say it, but:
Welcome to the future.
Download this song.

- Ralph

Day 62 of the WJMA Web Watch.

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