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Music = A Label?

October 28th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

A response to an article in Wire and Woz (Swiss Newspapers Translation into German) from Chris Cutler on Kenneth Goldsmith about his epiphanies on filesharing

I admit, I am not very musical, I don’t play an instrument at the moment, I like classical and electronic music. So writing about music here seems odd. However I think the before mentioned articles are anything but about music. Let me explain.

Chris Cutler has two views on his statements against filesharing and uploading of music: One from The Artist and one from The Label and that might be part of the problem. Where there has been an increasing numbers of radios and studios and music that has been recorded in a studio, studio-music might not be everything what human beings are capable of doing in music.

Of course if you see the world of music circling around its production in studios and by artists which produce records in one of them, the consumer might be as marginal as to be reduced to a consumer (actually a perspective the author Chris Cutler wants to write against). However if you think music not only makes sense on the production in a studio side but also on the listener and the reproducers side, you might fling open other doors on the view about music.

A great epiphany I experienced was a travel to Argentina. While sitting in a round of friends music seems to be something inherent. It might happen that a professor of physics pics up a guitar and starts playing and singing the finest Gardel-tango you ever heard. That made me think of music in other terms. Maybe here we just lost the idea at a point, that music isn’t all about a studio or a record, but about us enjoy paling and listening to it.

We don’t buy pans to have a nice pan at home, we buy pans to cook a great meal. Likewise we usually don’t buy music to have a great disk at home or a file on my hard drive but to hear good music. Music has been made long before the invention of recording and reproducing it – or the invention of Labels and Trade Marks. The point of view that diversity of music disappears over the vast uploading of it in this context seems to me farfetched, even unrelated and an expression of a distortion of looking on cultural achievements like music.

Data 3: The Customer/Listener/Consumer

One last word on the Customer, cause apparently Chris Cutler seems to have forgotten it after he wrote on the artist and the label and point on the customer might be very important if you tell to forget about the good guys/bad guys scheme.

The only somewhat easy way for ordinary (non nerd) people to pay for downloaded music offers Apple on iTunes (not that I am their biggest fan though). Here it’s simple to download DRM-encrypted music that secure the stuff I actually buy. Now whether or not you like people copying, this is a rather new issue on intellectual property, the later in the way used nowadays already an oxymoron in itself. If I buy a good a material thing that exists in 3D I can pretty much do whatever I want to do with it. The chastity belt of i.e. DRM the company producing the security tells me what I am allowed to do or not with it.

So free customers, those that even buy the records and choose between a wide diversity of music from the big time labels to the “sidestream music” producers seems to be like throwing dust into the eyes of the customer. The deal with intellectual property is: If you’re a coke seller and sell a coke, you have a bottle less of coke and more money. If you’re selling a good that goes under intellectual property like music, you don’t have less. In fact if I let’s say spread knowledge and teaching people, I don’t have less of knowledge myself, I actually gain more trough the interaction with the people I am sharing my knowledge with.

This fact might be why a professor of such dry matter like physics (outside of Europe) seems to be great with music as well. Both is spreading something that’s very essential in humankind, knowledge and music and might give you more back than you actually give. We can only hope here, that we learn again to treat things like music differently than just a Label, a product that is produced to shop it.

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