A lot of talk this week about copyright and piracy. The tech people that I normally enjoy listening to are driving me crazy.
I was listening to Gweek today and they were saying that piracy was actually a good thing for content makers. Not even neutral, now piracy is good. (Okay, there might be a positive aspect in having your product shared and passed around in the world, but does it outweigh the part where you didn’t get paid, you got ripped off?)
One interesting point they made was that piracy was bad only for the old media-style distribution systems, not the artists. I see that. The distribution systems have been sucking blood from artists in all mediums for a long time, and that could be ending here.
Tech people keep saying that artists can make it without the distribution systems, and they all trot out Jonathan Coulton as the example of someone who has made it on his own (by the way, he’s amazing). He offers his music for free, or you can buy it, and he does great. Hooray, there’s one guy making it. One guy.
Okay, you can add Radiohead and Louis CK, but both made their reputations over years in the old media system and only now have the power to make independent new media work. That’s three, so I’m still seeing a lot of artists left out in the cold.
Here’s a question to think about as a new artist-friendly distribution model evolves…
The employees of the old media distribution system did a lot of work, like promotion, financing, and obviously distribution. Who is going to do that in the new model? The artists? Does my favorite author now have to spend a couple hours a day on Facebook? Because I really want my favorite author working on the next book, not tweeting or other garbage that could be handled by someone else.
The problem with the old model was that the distribution system forgot who they worked for and started to think they were the important part. The new system will turn it around and put the creatives in charge. Maybe the band of the future will sign a record company to a deal instead of the other way around.
Then when you pirate you’ll be stealing directly from your idols, not from some faceless corporation who has them under contract.