Thursday, May 04, 2006

George Will and Chrispy: Two minds who think alike (okay, just this once)

George Will delivers a soundly centric piece in the latest issue of Newsweek regarding America's whiny consumer driven mindset. He uses the latest gas price hullabaloo to slap around the spoiled American consumption machine, and then takes aim at GOP elected officials for phonying up a “crisis” response to a market driven problem they all are surely well versed in.

I was reminded of it again when Chrispy commented with steely conviction to Fred Wilson and Bob Lefsetz indictment of Flea's condemnation of the theft and subsequent posting of the Red Hot Chili Pepper's upcoming album on the internet. You can read and link through here from A VC.

Chrispy first slays the giant capitalists with this David like rock:

"Flea's essential point was that he wants you to hear the music the way it was intended. This is completely legitimate, and I'm tired of people forgetting that, for the vast majority of musicians (and recording engineers) this career is not about money. It's about creating. Unfortunately, a lot of people have no understanding of this because they aren't creative, they are pure consumers. Now they can add nothing and take everything."

A direct target hit. He then finishes them off with this:

"Consumers are so caught up in having it "their way" that they've forgotten that they have no "right" to this music and no "right" to receive it the way they want. Until not long ago, the only music you could hear was performed live. If you couldn't play or go see someone play, tough. We've become so spoiled, so lazy, so quickly, that we forget that, for some of us, music (and sound) are sacred. It's not just another commodity or way to get rich. It's of an importance far deeper than someone like Bob can comprehend."

Game over.

It's fucking art people. Artists own it. Artists decide how they want it to be displayed and listened to and it has nothing to do with simple convenience. Lefsetz and Fred would have us believe that it's the evil record companies preventing our egocentric iPod generation from getting unfettered access to e-music, when in reality, artists and their labels have found a rare piece of common ground, even if their motives may differ. This is not and has never been solely a copy protection issue.

The album concept is something near and dear to recording artists. They are collections of songs written and recorded in most instances as a complete package. Occasionally, THEY will decide to release a single to be purchased on it's own. Perhaps labels are unilaterally driven by profit motive to keep the album concept as a mainstay. For me, it doesn't matter whether that's true or not. Artists seem to be weighing in and they are saying it will be them who decides how their art is “consumed". If that means you have to listen to an entire album, then so be it. Never killed anybody has it? If it means having to take an extra step to digitize it for all of your various playback devices, so be it. Buy the disc and do with it what you want. If they sit on shelf and are no longer of use to you, call me. I'd be glad to come collect them, open each one, throw it into my CD player, sit back, and listen.

UPDATE: Jackson weighs in here and he's angry my friends.

UPDATE II: It's getting bloody over in the A VC comments!


At 12:42 PM, May 05, 2006, Blogger Hue B. Mooksuki said...

I take it Chrispy is just a little speechless over this headline?

Who's the band in the picture, I know that gray haired dude is you, but who are the others??

At 12:45 PM, May 05, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

The only thing I have to add here is that this is the most well written piece you have posted to date - kudos - the writer within is emerging with style and conviction

At 1:04 PM, May 05, 2006, Blogger Chrispy said...

That's me on the left playing Ted's Ruby Red Slippers Tele, and Ted himself on the right playing the bass.

I'm happy that George and I are of the same mind on this one. This may be the only time, but hey, when someone's right they're right.

At 2:00 PM, May 05, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

Everyones right when they agree with Chrispy - right?

At 3:27 PM, May 05, 2006, Blogger Chrispy said...

That's right.

Now you're getting it.

Remember, listen to your Uncle Chris.

At 12:04 PM, May 06, 2006, Blogger rightbacktoyou said...

if it was 1910 George Will would be admonishing all of us for wanting cars and not thinking about the buggy whip manufacturers.

we can all wish that digital technology wasn't here to stay but it is.

fighting it isn't going to work. learning to live with it is.

At 12:06 PM, May 06, 2006, Blogger rightbacktoyou said...

that was cryptic. i am sorry.

my point is that the album is a creation of analog technology when packaging and manufacturing mattered.

they don't and neither does the album, unless the artists produce it as a single mp3.

if flea doesn't want people listening to his work on a song by song basis, he should put out all 28 songs on a single mp3.

he'd sell a lot less of them, but at least he'd protect his "art".

see the thing is that its not just about art. these guys are businessmen too. they want their cake and eat it too.

and that won't work.

At 3:18 PM, May 06, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

Flea didn't ask for the digital medium, and neither did I.

I guess it's ok to throw away culture in the course of progress.

"The problem is your asking people to change the way they think and feel - y'know there must be a thousand skulls up on Golgotha, you people should go up and count them, maybe you'd learn something - probably not." P. Pilot 33 A.D.

At 10:38 AM, May 08, 2006, Blogger Chrispy said...

I feel like these are two different issues/debates.

Flea wasn't upset about the death of the album format, he was upset that people were stealing his music. There are many ways that the Chili Peppers and record labels could and are addressing this issue (or not).

Packaging still matters in the digital age; it's just different packaging. Consider that enough bands and labels are still releasing things on vinyl and you'll realize there's room for several worlds to coexist. There's a real either/or mentality that just isn't necessary or accurate.

My problem isn't with the technology or the "march of progress". My problem is with consumers feeling they have a right to steal content because they can. Digital makes it easier, but it still doesn't make it right.

The album, as a concept, has waxed and waned for the last 50 years, and it will continue to do so. The newest technology is screwing up the presentation of the album as a whole - the fact that an iPod will not play two tracks back to back without a break between them is downright absurd. It's funny, that simple fact about the iPod, and the fact that mp3 has become an acceptable format, actually proves that the technology is moving backward. Think about it.

To say the album "doesn't matter" is equally absurd. Of course it matters. We'll see how many CD's the Chili's sell and how many people listen to it as a whole. People will continue to buy "Dark Side of the Moon" on CD because that's the only way to hear it intact, and there are PLENTY of people who want to hear music intact.

Something tells me there will be more than a few people who buy the whole album. Probably enough to justify releasing it in this format.

Obviously releasing all 28 songs as a single mp3 doesn't address the issue at all; I could easily cut said mp3 into 28 pieces and listen to each one. I'm sure Flea doesn't expect us to only listen to the record as a whole. If the sound is the "art", an mp3 wouldn't represent it anyhow.

He just doesn't want us to steal it. It's really simple.

I don't see how that's quaint.

I don't care about the buggy whip manufacturers, I just don't think we should be stealing cars.

At 1:53 PM, May 08, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...

"see the thing is that its not just about art. these guys are businessmen too. they want their cake and eat it too.

and that won't work."

I don't necessarily disagree with this statement at all, but what I do contend is that many artists would just assume make a record and sell it as a complete package whether it be mp3 or CD, even if that means lower sales numbers. Hell, The Darvocets just released their record on vinyl only when they could have pressed a crap load of CD's for the same price. While the Darvocets have not broken into the top 100, they have made a choice as to how they want people to listen to their music. I respect that even if that means I have to go downstairs into the studio to use the turntable to do it. If I want to burn an mp3 and listen to it on my iPod, I'm sure the Darvocets wouldn't mind at all at that point.

I think if an artist chooses not to release a song as a single and that means you have to buy the CD or the entire album worth of mp3's than that's what you have to do. You can always not buy it, or you could suck it up and listen to the whole thing. I think that's what most artists want you to do anyway, even if it means less exposure.

At 10:46 PM, May 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flea can get a day job and quit whining. You think that the other 10,000 waiters/car washers/bagboys/gardners that play music think they should pay the lucky artists 2-3 hours of their wages just to get 2 good songs and 9 that suck @ss?

At 2:25 PM, May 09, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...


Actually it's $11.96 at Amazon and yes, I do think waiters and busboys should pay Flea for it since it's his music. If it's your op that there's only two good songs on it, don't buy it.

I'm sure that once all the waiters and busboys start selling their albums they'll think the same way, or at least they ought to.

At 2:46 PM, May 09, 2006, Blogger Chrispy said...

Hey, Anonymous certainly makes a good point.

Why should we pay for anything? why not steal everything from the "lucky ones"?

Of course, to some people, the musicians with jobs as waiters are the lucky ones...

By the way, Flea has a day job. He's a professional musician.

At 9:13 PM, May 09, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

If I was an asshole I'd keep my identity concealed as well.

So, 20 years ago, waiters and busboys who bought records felt the same way?

If I was a moron I'd keep my identity concealed as well.

I'm glad somebody has had the time to review a 28 song record before it's been on the market.

My guess is that there are 28 good songs on the record.

At 5:22 PM, May 10, 2006, Blogger Chrispy said...

For the record, Anonymous thinks there are only 11 songs on the record.

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At 12:58 AM, March 18, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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