Chris Hollander

student researcher ,

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Shall We Pity the Entertainment Industry?

It may be hard to say yes or no, but what the SOPA debate and others like it have come down to is this:

1. The current media distribution model is not working for some companies.
2. They perceive their model as failing because of illegal acts.
3. These so called illegal acts are so pervasive that everyone and their brother has taken part of them on occasion, if not often, for almost a decade.

So do we then:
A. Ask the government to step in and help these companies implement their ideal business model with more crackdowns and legislation?
B. Allow the market, or some other force, to make these companies accept the current reality and either adjust and create a new model that is profitable or simply parish the way of the horse buggy and cassette tape?

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    Mar 17 2012: I worked in the music industry (as a sideman and having my own bands) for 30 years. We didn't have to write commercial jingles to get a record deal, but that's the only way bands get deals now. Check out the new pop/rock bands being signed to any bigger labels now and you'll see that it's on the coat tails of a song that'll be introed in a TV commercial before it ever gets officially released. The corporations that make stuff for younger people to buy are in charge of what you get to listen to for free on radio (unless you're into classic hits and CW), and that's because the only way that any label makes money now is by shopping songs to advertising firms for licensing deals.

    The other revenue streams are gone, so any band that doesn't have a song that seems like it can be shoehorned into a car commercial, a Target store commercial, an i-pad commercial, a feminine freshness commercial, or whatever is being sold by way of TV ads, may as well pack it in and get the members on their way to careers as insurance underwriters. Hell, even got a lousy pop band to directly shill for them with 30 second jingles that they lip sync right on the commercials. I bet those idiots think they're stars.

    Yeah, free music is great, but why would anyone with any integrity ever bother with what's become of that industry anymore. And if that carrot (being able to make a living) is gone, then what stick exists to force anyone to share their music with you? There is no stick to force them, so in the end, you lose. Take the carrot away, and what have you got? Free crap from attention-starved self-promoters who never would've made it past the 1st cut within a healthy music environment where serious people felt that an actual profession was possible. That's all gone now. It's just about selling cheap crap to people who sell cheap crap to everyone else. And that's at the very top of the industry. It's much more pathetic at the street level than even that.
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      Mar 17 2012: Kevin,

      It's been like that for 20 years - give or take the media channels.
      The 70s and 80s were like a bubble economy for musos - we literally rocked.
      My dad was an accomplished cool jazz drummer during the 50s and 60s - getting 1 gig a week doing old-time dances and whinging and moaning about how rock'n'roll was screwing up the market with the obscene inflow of half-assed players who would be hard pressed to keep up with a marching band.

      The folk music scene is pretty robust now for really good players - but you have to be unplugged to get on stage. And really, if you don't like to get on a stage, you can't really call yourself a muso.

      It's all kinda collapsed into the street level - I presume close to where it was 100 years ago.

      I so agree with your take on the pap that's being touted as music these days in the mainstream media - all ghost-in-the-machine piano-roll rubbish. Back in the 80s I saw the danger of that emerging as I customized analog synthesisers for live work. hey ho.

      But you absolutely understand the difference between the front and the back of the proscenium huh?

      Out there in teh puntery, all they see is glitter and glamour, and from the stage, all you see is gaffa tape, cables, rats, stoned roadies, crime-bosses and spilled beer - and when you look up .. well, there's the meat market. And everyone with stars in their eyes believing what we showed them - lining up at the green room door for some tips on how to see the crap we saw.

      I'm kinda glad the entry fee has gotten so high - the standard of real musicianship has become excellence never seen before on planet Earth.

      Have you considered doing a trad-folk gig? It's not an "industry" it's music, and much of what gets played has been public domain for 200 years. And the punters could care less about the meat.
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        Mar 18 2012: I tried the solo acoustic thing for a little bit and ended up customizing a one-man 3-piece power trio act (with a DR-880, a Digitech VL4, a Vox ToneLab and the whole thing managed by a little mixer on a music stand) where I programmed my own live show again and fit it into acoustic size spaces. I just couldn't do the strum and sing thing for very long. I needed the open road that a rhythm section gives a guitarist. I'm retired now (focusing on writing and changing the way humanity understands itself) but I still have a soft spot for music writers, players, and performers.

        I wish there was a way to help out, but the devaluation of their craft has become too ingrained within the American psyche for anything to be done about it. It's spread to the craft of writing too. I wrote articles for for a few months until I saw one of my articles appear on's news feed and realized that Helium had taken it and sold it to Yahoo without even letting me know they'd done it. We writers were competing with each other for stars on the Helium site, while Helium was shopping our articles to news feeds. Hell, they didn't even edit my piece, and it matched up word for word with my original submission. Sloppy of them, that's for sure.

        If music is free (worthless) now, then we'll all eventually get what we pay for in the end. I enjoy playing my newer music, and have no desire to share it with the public. I give song recordings to my friends and my daughter for special occasions. I don't bother making the recordings public anymore. I know a lot of songwriters who have stopped making public music, and who are okay with keeping their songs for people they care about only. It's becoming a trend from what I understand, and a way to show someone that they're special to the artist. Let the civilians have the corporate drivel running through their heads. They can take away our careers, but they can't have our music. I don't care if it matters or not to anyone at all.
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          Mar 18 2012: You're a great man Kevin!

          It's funny how us old musos turn to "changing the way humanity understands itself" ..
          I salute you!
          I suspect that, being musicians, we've been making that gift to humanity all along.

          Here's where I might be able to assist:
          There is a massive difference between social capital and money.
          A tribe can exist without money - but it is defined by its social capital.
          I have observed this in the folk festivals - they come together fueled by voluntary contribution - this makes them economic. AS teh "tribe" forms up on teh energy of voluntary contribution, it gains an "entity" - that entity can then turn to "interface" with the non-community environment - and money is the only interface there, but becasue the entity is NOT fueled by money, it has advantage, the money can be generated by ticket sales - and there is no requirement for profit beyond that needed to "seed" the next festival.
          Having a basis on social capital, the behaviours within these festivals is palpably different to the money-driven community .. you really aught to try - it, it is mind-altering to see it in action .. and participate.
          How do you convert social capital into food/shelter etc? Well, in the land of "Mamon", it starts with superior efficiency - and a place to participate in that very result of our efforts to "change the way humanity sees itself" - because it is all around us to see - with our own eyes - and once you see it, you will not be ashamed to say "with our own hearts".
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          Mar 19 2012: Kevin,
          Thank you for sharing your valuable experience here in this forum. I think given all that has happened in the industry and your attempts to maintain a level of professionalism in it you are due a level of appreciation.

          I would like to propose to you a historical analogy and delve deeper into your comment, "If music is free (worthless) now, then we'll all eventually get what we pay for in the end."

          Music has played so many different roles in human society for as long as we could communicate. Flutes and string instruments go back thousands of years and have many different and often elaborate variations. In ancient Greece, some cults believed that notes and tonal distributions maintained divine purpose. In fact they nearly worshiped the idea of sound and music! Many stories and myths we know today originated as songs and only much later were transcribed as books or poems. Later in the European renaissance, some astronomers believed that the planets themselves had different tones and if witnessed at the right time would create a symphony that was downright godly. Today, oral tradition, as anthropologists call it, is the practice of passing down one cultures to the next generation through story and song. It happens to be one of the most important but least documented sources of history around.

          I mention these things because, during all these periods (most of human history), the only way anyone ever made money from music was playing it live as a jester or actor and yet, so much importance was put on music that it was societies textbook, source of philosophy, scientific motivators, entertainment, advertisements ect. Music was hugely important and there were people who were famous for being brilliant at it.

          Given all of this, what is the point of music today? A place for famous people to dance around? I hope we do get what you say, "what we pay for" because I want music that values things that we cannot buy - Knowledge, culture, history and respect 4 people!
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    Mar 20 2012: I believe that (B) is the answer, but the market won't find its balance until we succeed in reproducing the conditions that result in the familiar fairness that existed before content went digital and the Internet was born.

    IP owners are trying to solve their problem by making all digital content available only as (DRM-protected) services, but consumers have always had an option when no service suited them… they could buy and own a product. Unfortunately, plain (unprotected) files are not just de-tethered from suppliers, they are de-facto public goods, because the marginal cost of their replication and their distribution is essentially zero. We don't need to ban plain files. We don't need to end DRM-protected services. We DO need to add something new and fundamental to the mix. We need to create the choice of digital products that are as untethered, copiable, sharable, and versatile as plain files, yet are as singular, monetarily valuable, and transferable as tangible personal property.

    We really do need all three: plain files, DRM-protected streams and files for services such as rental, and Digital Personal Property (DPP) for true consumer ownership. So-called piracy won't go away either, but in a more fair world it will be less popular. Imagine how broken our physical-product marketplace would be if consumer ownership were banned and replaced with rental and subscription services. Yet that is precisely the state of our cyber-marketplace — everything is licensed, nothing is owned.

    Earlier this month I spoke at a conference of Consumers International (, an umbrella organization of over 220 consumer rights groups around the world. My talk was on the work of the IEEE P1817 Standard for Consumer-Ownable Digital Personal Property ( Everything in Cyberspace is synthetic; we can synthesize anything we want, even consumer ownership, with true autonomy and privacy.
  • Mar 17 2012: The model of music-making employed by hitmakers Stock, Aitken, Waterman in the late 1980s, early 1990s showed quite clearly what would become of the industry in time. Acts largely as one-hit wonders in a phase of massive overproduction where music listeners (some call them consumers mistakingly) have reacted by starting to buy less and less. Music listeners have benefited from this. In the old days, a musician was one who could perform on the stage. A talented musician is not a person who can compose but the person who cannot live without composing. So it's only natural that, as a result of piracy and overproduction, musicians must start travelling round with their shows to make a living. Look at Jean-Michel Jarre touring Europe all year round!
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    Mar 16 2012: Cris,
    At one time I would have described myself as a "socialist" ..
    but these days no "ist" seems worth keeping as a functional category.

    On this ocasion, I think that the capitalist free market forces themselves are ripping the Entertainment industry to bits
    and they, who once spouted the virtues of the free market are climbing into bed with Marx and Pol Pot.

    Even the copyright laws themselves acknowledge that the creativity of humanity must return to humanity - except they want that to be delayed 100 years - at gunpoint if necessary.
    In this case, they employ our own guns to be pointed at us.

    It is sad that TED saw fit to remove my conversation thread on teh insane child that the corporation has become - most probably because it suggested taking up arms against the corporation .. I saw it as a balanced resoponse since the corporation is already taking up arms agains us.
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      Mar 17 2012: Yes that is strange considering it wasn't racist or religious or affected peoples belief no way was it offensive.
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        Mar 17 2012: They wrote to me saying:
        "Your conversation has been removed according to the Terms of Use ( ) as it is too vague to be of interest to the community as a whole. Full text below."
        With only the first 4 lines of my topic coppied into the email - so I have no record of my entire post or any of the responses.
        I conclude that they have acted to protect themselves from a topic that might become destructively heated.
        THat humanity is becoming the road-kill of its own bastard child (the corporation) .. and we better do something about it pretty quick.
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        Mar 17 2012: Oh .. and to be honest - my post was deliberately destructive to people's beleif systems - it was intended as a viral meme designed to wreck pretty much all we assume to be true.
        Well, it's out there now and is already being digested in cyberspace. All I need do now is keep re-seeding it with the snappy:
        "Humanity is becoming the road-kill of its own bastard child (the corporation)"
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          Mar 18 2012: HAR HAR HAR!!!!!
          (getting sick of "lol")

          Y'know, when you think about it - offending people is probably a bigger industry than the arts - all these shock jocks and funky anchor-men, spewing out hatred and ignorance and raking in the dough with armies of idiots who think these guys actually believe all teh shyte that they pour into the mic!
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          Mar 18 2012: these things work in subtle ways. I'm not trying to do the nyan cat here, but I'll take on board your perceptions.

          Thing with belief systems is that they incorporate assumptions - an assumption is a belief that has bypassed the trust-loading somehow.
          Assumptions exist in the meta-space representing stuff that cannot be directly percieved. One will find these artifacts bridging observable "facts".
          THere seem to be 2 dynamics at work with assumptions:

          One is that they get defended .. this is because they occupy physical neural topology - altering that topology takes effort - and when you go into an assumption to rewire it, the conscousness will be aware of all subsequent re-mapping and anticipates discomfort as the scale of remapping reveals sub-structures that may have yielded personal advantage.

          Two is that they get attacked - a person who observes a fact within someone elses assumption has advantage.
          A subset of this is the gregarious urge to share perception/observation - it is the basis of the social metaspace.

          So the erosive meme is a floating observation - wrapped in a meta-artifact. The artifact gives egress to the observation at a different, undefended point in the belief system (usually in the "pathos" structures).
          Then the new concept makes its way into the assumption subconsciously and sits there. The next time the assumption gets "fired" it also fires the new concept - at that point, the "agent" will get "insight" - an "aha!" moment .. The assumption will start to re-crystalize to accomodate the new "fact". Then the entire beleif system will start to re-structure.
          If it was a large assumption then new assumptions might have to be adopted to in-fill, but they will be unstable as they will not bypass the trust loadings - and will depend on personal esteem .. which will have been eroded by the realisation that a personal assumption was faulty.

          I will do more work on my meme .. maybe it needs a sweeter wrapper ;)
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    Mar 16 2012: For decades they (the media) have been ripping the public off with overpriced and redundant products. The industry has clearly forgotten who they serve and I believe that people donating or paying what they think media content is worth is the way forward.
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      Mar 19 2012: Well that said Mark, because as we know this isn't just a problem for the entertainment industry, intellectual property rights span everything from farming to medicine, what is the way forward with copyright?

      Share and crowd source models?
      Do we need to revamp economic basics?
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          Mar 19 2012: Exactly!

          I must admit, I'm totally motivated by structure models. It's just the way I process life.

          In terms of IP .. well, if you take the semantic sense of property from "I own it" to "It is intrinsic to me" .. E.g. "This is my property - keep your hands off!" Becomes "This arises from my entity - pelase enjoy!"

          YOu see, I see property as being an aspect of some entity - for instance, a property of me is that I live at this address. But a property of humans is a big brain.
          From that, I argue that intellect is a property of humanity - we all have it, it therefore is not a property of a single individual. And the laws actually reflect that.

          The granting of temporary monopoly on the ideas that flow freely through humanity is like a bug-fix to encourage ideas through the incentive of monolpoly. And it's pretty clever.

          But it is fraught with flaws - one being the diminishing return of period-of-monopoly (ultimately serves to retard human progress instead of promoting it). Two being the acceleration of change exceeding the capacity of humanity to adapt. Three being the encouragement of unfair advantage that results in social inaquity.

          Things are as they are. We have to live with it. But changes increasing the IP laws can serve only to press civillisation further down the slopes of diminished returns.

          At the very root of all this is the tool of incentive - money. Money does not represent value - it represents advantage. Promotion of advantage within a social species serves to destroy the species advantage in favour of the individual.

          Instead of being the collaberative organism we evolved to be, we have now become the farmers of humans. The emphasis on personal advantage has ignited a ponzi-sheme with each individual competing to not be on the bottom layer and all risk is falling upon the bottom layer in a spiral that must collapse.

          There may be some sane ballance between self interest and community interest - but I see that that balance (if it exists) is gone.
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          Mar 20 2012: Biggest, saddest thing about all that is we all know it.
          Well . anyone with eyes open can see it plainly.

          And now we all have in our minds "where will I be when the wheels fall off".
          We are nearly all of us thinking that now.
          The future is like a great big black wall that none of us can see surviving when we hit it.
          We are a freaking train-wreck in progress.

          So . we all know the first wheel that comes off is the money - even the economists have stopped lying about that.

          But hmm - hey, what if we just ignore it?

          WHat if .. we just keep going to work and keep going to the poxy supermarket.

          What if we just admit that money is a fiction and just say that everybody's account has infinite credit?

          What happens then?

          Well . not a lot really.

          One first thing is that half-assed products will stay on the shelves till the good stuff runs-out. THen we will put up with the crap till the godd stuff comes round again. SO nothing really changes except there will be queues at the shop-doors as soon as the good stuff comes round again. And the stores will stratify - good-stuff stores will become hard to find - and you better be committed to whatever you regard as good, because you'll be going on a pilgrimage to find it. And it will all balance out in the end.

          The only difference wil be that your money will be going to the value - and not into the pockets of bankers.

          That sounds pretty nice to me - and if you're a banker - well sucko looser! I, for one will be glad to see you in the queues with the rest of us ;)
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    Mar 16 2012: It's a basic organic need to share infomation,it's in our DNA otherwise we would be extinct by now,the church tried to restrict infomation passing amongst the common people by making the bible the sole preserve of the clergy as they were more educated than the rest.Look what happened when the printing press showed up and four perfect bibles were distributed in a village,it was mayhem,the devils work.

    Apparently the living organism called the corporation can lobby as a living organism in the U.S
  • Mar 22 2012: No we should not take pity on the Industry but in the Arstists ... The Industry is in big parts to big and slugish to adapt to change in time. A new industry will form... Pirating copyrighted material has become a multi Billion Dollar Industry in it`s self ... the next logical step for us Producers of art to step up and get our share from the people making the mony now... As with the old system we already have a co dependancy, they (pirates and /orentertainment industrie) need us (creatives) to keep on producing content, we need them to distribute that content to an audience and collect revenues (advertising/subscription fees what ever), so in the long run the only thing happening is that the industry is changing hands ...

    I belive history will in somewhat prove Marc Getty (founder of Getty Images) wrong when he said "Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century"

    Copyright has to change, Intelectual property "written in stone" for 90 years after death is sensless and kills new creativity, the future of copyright should be more flexible (lice creative commons )and will have to have a shorter life spann...
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    Mar 19 2012: Hi. Well it seems as it is completely forgotten that Piracy was the boost for the music industry here in Europe in the 60´s and 70´s!! In that period there were a huge number of off-shore radio-stations playing what the young people wanted to listen to! The authorities in certain countries, used their power to close most of them creating new laws forbidding them to continue. If these pirates had not been there, I wonder when we would have been able to listen to all the great artists that´s been around and many more to come? Only one continued a few years longer than the rest, Radio Caroline.
    So the question is: who benefits most from "legal" music? The governments getting their taxes or the music industry??
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    Mar 19 2012: Ok so, I think many of my political and economic ideas, at least in part, essentially boil down to -
    How do I keep big brother/The fuzz, off my back?

    I envy anyone who gets to live without the military arm of the government (cops) breathing down their neck all the time, but know that not everyone has that pleasantry. (PS I get pulled over like once a week cause I have red tinted windows and apparently its legal but confuses cops a lot). lol!

    How do we, in reality, keep the government from stepping in and enforcing laws like MPAA and new ones lke SOPA 2.0?
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    Mar 16 2012: I appreciate your long reply. But, don't you think there should be some safeguards (until an extent) to stop piracy? After all piracy is stealing, right?

    I spoke about the profits as part of the industry as a whole. The jobs point was on a more emotional level.

    P.S. I wanted to post this as a reply to your comment, but I guess does not allow more than three levels of conversation.
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      Mar 16 2012: Gowtham,
      Piracy has to do with ships on the high seas.

      The pirate boards another's vesel and removes goods and value from that vesel,

      Often kills everyone on board and either sinks or steals the vesel.

      With digital copy nothing is removed, the vesel and crew remain intact.

      What we are talking about here is prohibition.
      Using the word "pirate" is a mind-screw for you to suck-up (as you have).
      Prohibition always creates a black market - always.
      And most artists will tell you that the real pirates are the IP companies - as they take-over our creations, remove our value and leave us discouraged.

      Jobs? .. jobs are for money. Creative artist have no need of jobs - they have work. Big difference.
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    Mar 16 2012: The motive of any industry is to earn a profit. When their profit is being eaten through any means, they will obviously try to stop it.

    Creating media is not an easy task. Lots of money and effort is put into it. We can't just expect them to give their content away for free. I think SOPA came out of the media industry's sheer frustration at being helpless.

    On the other hand, I do believe that media companies should try to adapt to the changing consumer demands rather than trying to coerce them into their path.
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        Mar 16 2012: Do you know how many people rely on the media industry? From technicians to directors, millions of people depend on the media industry for their livelihood directly or indirectly. Piracy is hurting their livelihoods.

        I am not saying SOPA in its present form is right. I was merely pointing out one of the reasons for its existence.