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Kevin Kelly Understands Payment Volition · Saturday August 02, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

I’m glad to see that Kevin Kelly also recognises that paying for music is what people want to do, but have no means of doing.

All people can do is to pay publishers for copies, and be prosecuted if they make their own.

So, let’s make a way for people to pay musicians for music – directly.

Anyone who adds value, can then be paid for the value they add.

If making a copy adds no value, why should the maker of copies expect any payment?

Generalism vs Specificity · Tuesday September 16, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

In his second article concerning the inexorable transformation of American newspapers Vin Crosbie is right on the ball with the necessary change in focus from generalism to specificity that must occur when you no can longer produce one newspaper for a single mass market, a single virtual audience, but have to recognise that there is a vastness of audiences, each with a far more specialised set of interests.

This applies to most forms of art, not just newsprint, e.g. movies. The likes of Disney are focussed on producing a single product with most effort spent on maximising its mass appeal – simply because they have been brainwashed over the years to think this is the way it has to be (given the physical limitations of their reproduction and distribution system). Newspapers also attempt to include something for all the family, something to interest everyone.

However, I think the issue of charging isn’t simply due to the Web providing vast amounts of more specific information (without charge), making general newsprint less valuable in comparison. The value of news to those reading it remains unchanged. What the web demonstrates is that the inability to charge arises from an inability to control supply and distribution, not any change in value. It also demonstrates that this situation is the natural one, and that newspapers enjoyed an unnatural one – thanks entirely to copyright.

Without copyright, newspapers couldn’t charge for their control over supply. They would have to operate on the basis of voluntary subscriptions from readers and/or payments from advertisers.

On the web, copyright is revealed to be wholly inappropriate and unviable as a means of preserving a publisher’s monopolistic control over the use of their news – as Associated Press has recently discovered (see techdirt.com and ravinglunacy.org).

Much of this misadventure in applying anachronistic printing privileges stems from use of paper analogues and metaphors to describe the web, which leads publishers to presume it can be subject to the same anachronistic laws governing copying and thus the same business models. If only people could see past the metaphors they’d realise that underlying the web is an instantaneous diffusion mechanism dedicated to distribution and reproduction of digital information according to interest – with no notion of man-made laws, only the natural laws of information.

So far, only charging (charged reading or subscriptions) and advertising have been explored as a means of funding online news. Charging does not work, and advertising is degrading. Very few are as yet exploring voluntary payment or subscriptions. I’m one of these latter few who believe revenue models for digital productions have to be rethought from the ground up without any notion of copyright or other ability to control use or redistribution of published works.

Artist and Audience Alone · Thursday September 18, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

Dear Digital Artist,

You asked if someone could succinctly explain what the future holds for digital artists.

Let’s have a go:

  1. The market for copies has ended. You will never be able to sell copies again (everyone can make their own at zero outlay and extreme convenience).
  2. People will not pay for what they already have – as a general rule.
  3. However, no-one else can make art like you can. You still have a natural monopoly even if your unnatural one has ended, so exploit it.
  4. Your art is your ambassador (don’t waste money or effort trying to force people to like you or your style). Therefore encourage people to promote your music by playing it, sharing it, building upon it, and ideally letting people know it’s you who produced it. However, don’t get bolshy, demanding credit, or forbidding people from certain honest uses, e.g. making money from your art (you can’t expect funding if you deny it to others).
  5. You don’t sell what you’ve already sold or given away (remember, people don’t pay for what they already have). You sell yourself and the art you’ve yet to produce and publish. Thus you invite your growing audience to patronise your artistic production (commission more work, or specific works).

So what does the future digital art production process look like?

  • Production – provided by artist, funded by audience: patronage
  • Promotion – provided by audience: word of mouth and online socialising, blogging, discoveral agencies, etc.
  • Reproduction – provided by audience: individual and commercial file-sharing
  • Distribution – provided by audience: individual and commercial file-sharing

From now on, it’s just you and your audience. You make the art, your audience enjoys it and pays for more.

The publisher has disappeared from the value chain.

The copy as a saleable product has disintegrated – there is no copy – there is only art you have released and art you have not.

The market stall, the table across which you and your audience meet to exchange art for money, money for art, is the Internet, with its growing number of facilities that let you engage in agreeable business with each other.


Who’s going to facilitate my audience funding me?

I and a few others (see Peers) are working on online facilities to enable direct payment from audience to artist.

What are these ‘discoveral agencies’ you mention?

They are services that help people find artists to their taste, e.g. Last.FM and Pandora help people discover new musicians based on the musicians they’ve already discovered.

Can I afford a commercial file-sharing service?

MiniNova is one that uses advertising to support its free reproduction and distribution service, so that should indeed be quite affordable. Also see alternatives.

I thought everything in the future was going to be funded by advertising?

Advertising is certainly going to play some part in the next few years, but that will diminish as the Internet rebalances communications between vendors and customers (see ProjectVRM). Until that time, yes, advertising can provide some funding. For example, there will be ways for people to redirect their website’s ad revenue as patronage (see JuiceTorrent).

drew Roberts said 5542 days ago :

“Who’s going to facilitate my audience funding me?

I and a few others (see Peers) are working on online facilities to enable direct payment from audience to artist.”

Please be sure to take into account the “collection” of monies on behalf of a “group” but the disbursement to them as “individuals”.

If this is not clear, please let me know for further discussions.

Also, I am not sure the copies market is completely gone and especially not in the physical realm. (Physically rendered copies of digitally created artworks.)

all the best,



Crosbie Fitch said 5541 days ago :

Yes, I do recognise the issue of disbursement, i.e. for artworks with multiple contributors and varying degrees of contribution.

The Contingency Market has been designed to cater for ‘agencies’ (‘agents’ that comprise other ‘agents’, each having a number of shares in any transaction). Other systems may adopt other approaches, e.g. enabling works to enumerate and apportion their contributors.

However, the benefit of a disbursement facility to collectives has to be counterbalanced with the additional administrative costs of supporting collectives (conciliation and arbitration). This is why I suspect disbursement may tend to be identified as a ‘future enhancement’ in most systems.

Of course, when revenue gets to very high levels then disbursement is essential. However, by that point it may be wise for the collective to form a single financial entity, e.g. to incorporate. Otherwise, on the smaller scale, it may tend to be the case that for digital art and other intangible public works a collective has to trust every member as equally able to represent and respect every other member’s interests, i.e. they should pick one member as treasurer.

Also worthy of note is the added complexity of enabling the public to confidently identify each artist, and the authoritative representative of any collective. To some degree this is a task for the artist’s audience, to take care in identifying a work’s producer and patronising the bona fide artist(s), e.g. finding the official websites.

As for the market for material copies, yes, this remains, albeit at prices no longer inflated by monopoly. It can still cost money to buy a retail copy of a GNU/Linux distro – despite being freely copyable. There will always be a market for copies that cannot easily be produced by the audience, e.g. vinyl pressings.

drew Roberts said 5538 days ago :

“Otherwise, on the smaller scale, it may tend to be the case that for digital art and other intangible public works a collective has to trust every member as equally able to represent and respect every other member’s interests, i.e. they should pick one member as treasurer.”

This may be all well and good when you are a member of one or a few long lasting collectives, but if you take a look at how something like kompoz works, this is not likely to work well. This needs to be solved as a part of the system and be “easy.”

“As for the market for material copies, yes, this remains, albeit at prices no longer inflated by monopoly”

Yes, that is true and is a good thing in my book. However, the prices may still be inflated by “celebrity” and related factors. Check the market for autographed sporting memorabilia for example.


Crosbie Fitch said 5538 days ago :

If systems such as Kompoz don’t mind taking on the human costs of administering collectives, then they can still utilise the ‘N-shares’ disbursement feature within the ContingencyMarket (if that is sufficient), and make things appear to be “easy”.

The technical aspects of such disbursement are relatively trivial. It’s all the other aspects that are tricky. :)

Of course, if you try really hard, things can still get tricky technically too, e.g. a system that needs to permit continuous recording of wide and varied work inputs throughout a project’s lifetime (across version releases), from individuals and constituent products from other collectives. And no doubt to enable certain kinds of work to have a higher value than other work, and for these values to be adjusted at any time, given collective consultation and approval.

It sounds to me as though you should check out P2PMoney who have been exploring the issue of disbursement and revenue sharing in general.

The Jabberwock, the Bandersnatch, and the Recording Industry · Sunday September 28, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

As Gerd Leonhard observes with his experienced and perhaps jaded eye, entrepreneurs such as Justin Ouellette (Muxtape) that step foot in the recording industry’s territory with a view to doing business there may well be intrepid, but they may also be foolhardy. If they don’t fall foul of the jaws that bite or the claws that catch, they will at least gain the wisdom that you either beat them on fresh territory, or you join them on theirs. You do not beat them on their turf.

Here’s a fragment of Justin’s Muxtape story:

In May I had my first meeting with a major label, Universal Music Group. I went alone and prepared myself for the worst, having spent the last decade toeing the indie party line that the big labels were hopelessly obstinate luddites with no idea what was good for them. I’m here to tell you now that the labels understand their business a lot better than most people suspect, although they each have their own surprisingly distinct personality when it comes to how they approach the future. The gentlemen I met at Universal were incredibly receptive and tactful; I didn’t have to sell them on why Muxtape was good for them, they knew it was cool and just wanted to get paid. I sympathized with that. I told them I needed some time to get a proposal together and we left things in limbo.

A few weeks later I had a meeting with EMI, the character of which was much different. I walked into a conference room and shook eight or nine hands, sitting down at a conference table with a phonebook-thick file labeled “Muxtape” laying on it. The people I met formed a semi-circle around me like a split brain, legal on one side and business development on the other. The meeting alternated between an intense grilling from the legal side (“you are a willful infringer and we are mere hours from shutting you down”) and an awkward discussion with the business side (“assuming we don’t shut you down, how do you see us working together?”). I asked for two weeks to make a proposal, they gave me two days.

Which provides some context for Gerd’s observations:

It totally amazes (but not surprises) me how much Justin’s story is similar to my own experiences with Sonific, my last digital music startup, and how much it matches with the stories I keep hearing from dozens of brave if maybe somewhat ‘fresh’ digital music entrepreneurs every single day: you bring golden ideas to the record industry and they will act like it’s dirt – simply because it means they will need to share the control. Most of the major label execs will eagerly suck up all the information you can give them only to then a) drop all communications and reverse-engineer what you do b) present you with terms that would make Stalin look like an altruist. Muxtape draws the right conclusion: start from scratch, directly with the artists.

Start from scratch, and on fresh turf not controlled by the industry. Even Justin considered this, though he initially ruled it out:

As I saw it I had three options. The first was to just shut everything down, which I never really considered. The second was to ban major label content entirely, which might have solved the immediate crisis, but had two strong points against it. The first, most visibly, was that it would prevent people from using the majority of available music in their mixes. The second was that it did nothing to address the deeper questions surrounding ownership and usage for everyone else who wasn’t a major label: mid-size labels and independent artists who have just as fundamental a right to address how their content is used as a large corporation, even if they don’t carry quite as big a stick.

It’s plain that Justin has recognised he can’t deal with the barons, but it’s also clear he’s still failed to recognise why in his homesteading forays he could so unwittingly stumble across their now unguarded borders. He also doesn’t appear to recognise this as an indication of the barons’ doom, why their territory must not only cease expanding, but from the disintegration of its imperial overexpansion must soon fade into legend as a land of mythological and invented creatures. Artists never did, do not and never will have a fundamental right to control the use of their ‘content’. Publishing corporations were certainly granted such a privilege by the Queen of Hearts, but this is a supernatural power that even in simulation takes the might of governments to enforce, and the wealth of its commercial exploitation to prosecute. Fortunately, the rude people are yet more massive and mighty – and when they realise the myth of copyright has no greater force than fear, its magical thrall over them disappears. The masses share their music once more and the old matriarch’s monopolies collapse like a house of cards.

Tim Westergren, evidently a mythologically familiar entrepreneur, is inclined to have Pandora open the box of all musicians’ music to the four corners of world. However, he has also struggled in his swordplay and has had to sometimes rest by the Tumtum tree.

It continues to astound me and the rest of the team here that the industry is not working more constructively to support the growth of services that introduce listeners to new music and that are totally supportive of paying fair royalties to the creators of music. I don’t often say such things, but the course being charted by the labels and publishers and their representative organizations is nothing short of disastrous for artists whom they purport to represent – and by that I mean both well known and indie artists.

So that he could once again provide his services in the UK, I suggested to him that Pandora should simply ditch all licensed music (except where copies were already possessed by the listener – the playback of those copies being interleaved with streaming of others) and focus solely on the recommendation/discovery of new musicians who’d had the sense to unilaterally negotiate permanent zero licensing rates (thus neutralising the ability of collection societies to extort money from the promoters among their audience).

Etienne Handman (COO) replied with considerable skepticism as to my suggestion being financially viable (let alone practical). I suspect this is because they’re still focussed on chasing old money (promoters and advertisers), rather than the good coin of the people who actually value their service, i.e. musicians and their audiences.

After all, it is the audience who has the money and the musician who has the music. These are the two parties who have business with each other, who want to exchange music for money, and money for music. This new online world in which artist directly encounters audience is the lush, untrodden turf in which entrepreneurs should look to provide their services, facilitating production, performances, discoveries, and exchanges. This is the new marketplace for music. Moreover, this is no place for the hindrances of old, the anachronistic privileges and unfair monopolies that mollycoddle music publishers at the expense of all music lovers and all but a minority of musicians.

We are already seeing a hint of the entrepreneurs to come. We have library facilities such as Jamendo who’ve recognised the encumbrance of copyright does not help new bands self-promote themselves, and recommendation facilities such as Pandora who’ve recognised that music is better recommended by merit than money (Payola). So, there’s still room for intermediaries between audience and artist, but they’ve really got to add value if they want to earn money, not remove it (DRM, advertising, etc.).

This is why, if you are an entrepreneur in the business of digital art production, I caution you to venture only into the largely undiscovered territory of non-copyright based revenue models. This means steadfastly avoiding incursions into, or contamination from, the established territory of the traditional music industry and its copyright polluted works. Leave them to their anachronistic business of selling snow to Eskimos, selling copies to audiences who can quite easily make copies all by themselves. Pissing on your own product, making the snow yellow (adding DRM) and litigiously biting the hands that feed you are the marks of a senile industry that has reverted to rabid territoriality and reliance upon ever greater state support (DMCA). The old dog may well invite you round for dinner to teach it your new tricks, however its remaining survival instinct is not to learn, but to eat. So beware the jaws that bite, the claws that catch, beware the Jubjub bird and shun the frumious Bandersnatch.

In averting the ending of this post on a sour note let’s look forward to that frabjous day when copyright has been abolished, all musicians and their audiences are free, and we can all chortle in our joy, “Callooh! Callay! The Jabberwock is dead!”

Selling Music Recordings · Wednesday November 05, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when I suggest to a musician that they should sell their music rather than copies of it, they probably think I may as well be suggesting they crack the pointed end of their eggs rather than the blunt end, as if either suggestion might just as effectively improve their life.

It is not obvious to me how to succinctly explain the difference between selling music and selling copies. This is related to the psychological disorder of copy-blindness. If you have it, you’ll find it very difficult grokking the difference. If you don’t have it, you’ll find it difficult understanding how anyone can’t grok the difference.

Following on from this, is the difference in value between music and copies of it, and how the value of copies (unlike music) has changed relatively recently. Therefore, because the value of copies has diminished, it seems nearly everyone concludes that the value of music has diminished. It hasn’t.

There is actually a colossal difference between music and copies. And it’s not sophistry.

Every man and his dog can make copies of great music for next to nothing – irrespective of the publisher’s traditional monopoly we call copyright. So of course, copies aren’t worth much at all these days.

Nevertheless, very few people can make great music, regardless of whether it costs them much to produce and record. Consequently, music remains just as valuable as ever, although it’s still very much in the ear of the beholder as to which of it is great and which of it isn’t. Thus few people want to pay 99p a time to audition a hundred songs before they find something they like. However, they’ll be very happy to persuade the musicians they do like to produce more great music, perhaps at a tenner a time.

So music remains valuable, whereas copies do not – especially digital copies. This is unfortunate for manufacturers of copies (publishers), but not for musicians (except those still indentured to publishers or record labels). Fortunately, musicians have never had to sell copies, and they don’t need to start.

There are two ways musicians have traditionally made money from their music: performing it before an audience, and recording it for a publisher of copies (aka a record label).

Unfortunately, publishers have organised their business on the large mark-ups they can obtain given a monopoly on the production and distribution of copies. A monopoly that was over-generously provided by not particularly scrupulous governments a couple of centuries or so ago.

As the tide of nature comes racing back to restore the public’s cultural liberty, we see the publishers’ privilege of copyright become less respected, its monopoly almost completely ineffective. Nature never did imbue individuals with the power to control what other people do with the material and intellectual works they give or sell to them. To be in receipt of a grant of such power, a legislated suspension of the public’s liberty, is neither an entitlement to respect, nor a way of earning it. When we erect sandcastles on nature’s beach, we cannot be too despondent when nature washes them away.

Anyway, now that the record labels are disappearing, musicians can no longer sell their music to them, and so are wondering who to sell their recordings to and how. Their audience is the obvious answer. However, whilst they’re quite used to selling their live performances to their audiences, selling recordings to them is not something they’ve ever done before. So, the question of ‘How?’ remains unanswered.

What we have today is the sorry sight of musicians who don’t know the answer, going through the motions of being their own record label and attempting to sell copies where their labels cannot.

The thing is, if labels needed a monopoly to sell copies, and considerable wealth to enforce it, then it’s inescapable to conclude that a self-publishing artist is going to have even more difficulty relying upon a monopoly – despite having far less overhead than a label. Moreover, given that a musician’s audience can make their own copies, one must deduce that if they do appear to be purchasing copies from musicians, that this is either convenience, indoctrination or patronage at work.

So, if a musician is to sell recordings of their music to their audience, instead of copies, then how do they do it?

We have the artist and their recording on one side of the table, and the audience and their money on the other.

All we need is an exchange. Art for money, money for art.

Well, if the artist can sell a live performance to an audience of ten thousand fans, why can’t they sell a studio recording to the same audience?

Admittedly, ten thousand fans don’t really want to turn up at a large stadium, hand their tickets in, and then file back out again despite knowing they’ve just paid for a studio recording – even if they are handed a free copy of it on their way out. It would seem there’s a far more efficient way of doing it online…

Why not sell tickets to your audience online, but tell them that this is for a recording rather than a performance? What’s more, you can tell them that they don’t need to come to the stadium. Instead they can stay at home, and a free copy of the recording (copyleft and in FLAC format) will be e-mailed to them (or at least a link to where it can be downloaded via BitTorrent).

Just as with a concert, you’ll refund everyone’s money if the recording doesn’t go ahead, perhaps because not enough tickets were sold.

In fact, this approach also works for live online performances. You can sell tickets, and then (if there’s a big enough audience) use RawFlow to broadcast yourself live.

You can’t sell people what they already have, or can make themselves.

So, don’t try to sell copies of your music to your audience, sell your music to them instead.

If your audience wants to see and hear you play live they’ll buy tickets to your concerts (at stadiums or online). If your audience wants to have your new music recordings, they’ll buy tickets to your studio sessions (even if they’ve already happened).

As the market for copies ends, the market for music evolves.

drew Roberts said 5505 days ago :

Indeed, and the swarm of angels folks have a similar idea for a movie with added fan / supporter involvement.

They do not choose the Free and copyleft model which I think is a shame and I look forward to someone else trying that.

all the best,


Material Copies Are Sometimes Valuable · Wednesday November 12, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

I’m amused by Mike Masnick’s astute observation in Newspapers Are Souvenirs that a blip in sales of newspapers around Barack Obama’s presidential election is not necessarily indicative of a preference for the paper and ink based medium during important events – it could be indicative of an abnormally high value placed on permanent and authentic copies produced by a news vendor, e.g. for souvenir, archive, memorabilia, or collectability value.

This is just one of those peculiar circumstances in which a newspaper is valued for being a copy of the news, rather than for being a convenient means of obtaining the news (and commissioning it).

So, as Mike suggests, now is not the time to be buying up old printing presses for an apparently growing market for paper copies of news.

It still seems as if the future is to sell the news, and then without the anachronistic monopoly of copyright, enjoy a free market in printed copies for whatever price the market will bear.

As an early example of this we have such novelties as WikiTravel books being published (uncontrained by copyright). The online information may be copied without charge, so the value of a book printed from it must be wholly due to it being a material book, and thus its value attributable entirely to its printer – not its authors1.

One of the key requirements for business success concerning intellectual works (without monopoly) is working out whether you’re selling the copy or the intellectual work.

With the monopoly of copyright, they’re notionally bound together. That’s why it’s so difficult for people who’ve grown up with the equivalence of ‘copy=work’ to figure out what the flip I’m talking about when I try and explain that they’re as different as a map from the landthe copy is not the work.

If one doesn’t understand Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” then there’s a long way to go.

Ceci n'est pas une pipe

Given copyright is ineffective today (and as unethical as ever) it’s now vital to be able to distinguish between them – the work and the copy.

Once the producer of the intellectual work has exchanged the value of their labour for whatever the market can bear, that’s the end of the matter. Authorship is not entitlement to royalty (this is a prerogative of kings). Moreover, the author also remains unentitled to the value of any material or intellectual work other people add to it or incorporate it into.


1 I’m talking about the value of the book, the material copy that is the book. The value of the intellectual work within the book is of course entirely attributable to its authors – and they have already exchanged the value of their labour. If you buy a WikiTravel book you are paying its printer – not its authors. If you want to pay its authors for their intellectual work you should pay them.

Tel said 5480 days ago :

I think you are going to have trouble convincing the software industry of the distinction between the work and the copy.

Increasingly, creative media work is do directly to digital so I’m sorry to tell you but the work IS the copy. My electrons and your electrons are exactly the same.

You could argue that the real work done is creating that piece of software or media in the first place, not the item that was thus created. Get’s a bit tricky, people have a mental preference for tangible goods.

Reviewing the Market for Music · Friday November 21, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

  • Musicians can sell or give away music.
  • Producers of copies can sell or give away copies.

The market for digital copies in a given work rapidly saturates (proportional to its popularity, sometimes within a day or less), therefore the market for the mass production of digital copies is as dead as Monty Python’s parrot. If you’re a producer of digital copies I don’t see a particularly rosy future. There may be a market niche for a producer of vinyl LP copies, but only while the nostalgia lasts.

However, the market for music is looking very good for music lovers because of how much easier it is for musicians to enter the marketplace and promote their music.

Control over distribution channels is dissipating and the selection of musicians for our consideration is no longer in the hands of a few record labels, via their retail and broadcast channels.

With more musicians and music lovers in the marketplace, there may well be more money available, but then this may be spread more thinly given so many more musicians. This is good for cultural diversity, but not so good if a few good musicians were hoping to corner the market and live in luxury.

Our key tasks in these times are:

  1. Enabling musicians to sell their music to their audience (their market), whether live performances or studio recordings.
  2. Restoring a free market in music by ending the highly unethical cultural constraint applying to all artists and their audiences, by abolishing the anachronistic and now ineffective monopoly of copyright.

We should be able to get at least one of those sorted before breakfast, eh?

The Mysterious Sale of Copies Despite Free Downloads · Wednesday January 07, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

Too many people remain mystified that an MP3 that is free to copy or download can still become the best selling album, i.e. Ghosts I-IV by Nine Inch Nails.

That is a quandary that results from the copyright inculcated tradition of conflating the copy with the art. This is why people have so much difficulty figuring out why people pay for that which they can get for nothing.

So, let’s separate the copy from the art:

  • Those who value the art should pay the artist.
  • Those who value the copy should pay the printer.

There will thus remain a residual market for valued souvenir/collectible copies, e.g. vinyl.

However, in the digital domain the Internet is dissolving the idea that the art (and the commission to the artist) is bound with the copy.

We should then recognise that art should be released from the impotent shackles of copyright, changing from black to white a free market in the production and distribution of copies – distinct from the production and publication of the art.

Why should the artist receive a royalty from someone else’s hard labour in producing a copy?

Let the artist be paid for their art, not the production of copies.

The difficulty facing audiences today is figuring out how they can pay the artist for their art, given they don’t need to pay them (or anyone else) for copies.

For example, if you’ve already downloaded the MP3 copy for free, but want to pay the artist for their art, why also pay Amazon for a copy you don’t need? Why should Amazon get a cut of the money the audience wants to pay solely to the artist?

Steve R. said 5447 days ago :

This morning I was reading “Why People Don’t Believe In Paying For Music. Hint: Its All About Deflation.” on Against Monopoly, but didn’t come up with anything to really say. Your post raises a very real issue, we have continued to buy CDs, even though we are conflicted over it. I was particularity perturbed about paying $30 (20 Pounds, if I did that correctly) for a 40 year old Beatles Album!

Anyway, with the internet, the artists can now bypass the publisher. But then obsolete business models sputter on (out of tradition) for many years before expiring.

Crosbie Fitch said 5447 days ago :

Yes, I read that.

While there are savings due to technology in many walks of life, there’s a bit of a Parkinson’s law that means the same amount of labour is involved, it’s just that the product improves.

I think that by far the biggest factor in the decreasing price for copies is the fact that everyone can make their own, and thus an ever increasing number will refuse to pay the monopoly price and pay the black market price instead (<1%).

What hasn’t changed (despite technology) is the labour cost in the production of the art and the market value of the art. We can all make our own copies, but we still need to pay the artists we like to produce their art that we like.

Even though publishers will fight tooth and nail to prevent being disintermediated from the artist->publisher->retailer->audience value chain, artists will start selling their art to their audiences directly – given the market for copies has ended (or at least the monopoly protected copy market).

Publishers with any brain cells still working will adapt, which means getting out of the market for copies and into the the market for art. Suing artists’ audiences to punish disrespect of their copy monopoly is not the answer.

I look forward to intermediaries that can help audiences pay artists for their art, rather than for copies they don’t actually need.

Newspapers are Numbskulls · Monday January 12, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

I read on TechDirt that Paul Mulshine recently wondered in the online Wall Street Journal what the new revenue model would be for newspapers, or rather, what the new model for ‘compensating journalists’ would be, and if anyone could tell him.

Well, it does seem that to tell him takes an inordinate amount of arcane technical knowledge, even if it doesn’t quite take a genius.

Attempting to reply by following “Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.” simply wastes your time by informing you after you attempt to submit your reply that the topic is closed.

And then, when attempting to contact the journalist directly you find that such a privilege is only available to WSJ subcribers.

This is not the right way for a newspaper to go about either obtaining an answer from its readers, or forming a constructive relationship with them. Furthermore, I doubt such hurdles will endear the most avid potential customers to the journalist, nor persuade them to realise their potential by getting out their wallets and encouraging the journalist to continue writing.

I have therefore decided to resort to the message-in-a-bottle equivalent of blogging about this in the expectation that Paul Mulshine will eventually find the answer to his question washed up on his shore (if he can find it amongst the sodden newspaper jetsam).

Online newspapers would do well to at least make a meagre attempt to test their readers’ experience of using their sites. The last century may have brainwashed them into thinking that feedback can only occur via ‘Letters to the Editor’, but they should have the intelligence to check that their online equivalent actually works – rather than cast aspersions against the ability of their readers to ever exhibit any intelligence.

So, here’s my answer to Paul Mulshine:

Good news will always be valued.

Unfortunately, copies are extremely cheap to make, and ever greater numbers of people are paying a black market price for them rather than the monopoly price, i.e. paying nothing instead of something.

Instead of a revenue model that depends on monopoly protected sale of copies of news, you’ll have to move to sale of news. Sell what people want (news), not that which they can make themselves for nothing (copies).

Fortunately, the very device that makes copying so cheap is the same device that makes communicating with one’s customers so cheap, i.e. The Internet.

So, form a bi-directional relationship with your online customers (see VRM) and sell the news to them, and moreover, encourage a free market in copies (rather than the black one that exists anyway).

That’s what the new revenue model is.

Alex Bowles said 5443 days ago :

Bang on, Mr. Fitch. Also, happy new year. Hope it’s better for you than it’s likely to be for Mr. Murdoch.

Intellectual Work for Money · Wednesday February 25, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

I am arriving at a means of exchanging intellectual work for money1, without any need to privilege manufacturers or distributors of copies with monopolies, just as a century or so ago people arrived at a means of farming cotton without the need to enslave people.

No-one who makes a living from the suspension of others’ liberty will want to confront the ethics of their lucrative privilege, though they will happily focus on the prospect of hardship for all in a similar situation if such privilege is removed.

It is a failure of imagination to conclude that without copyright’s notional ability to prevent copying it is impossible for authors and other artists to exchange their highly valuable work for the money of those who highly value it.

I recognise that I’m not wrapping my prose in soft cushion here, but then I do not intend to address those with a fragile disposition. Copyright’s future is not to be rescued by any argument. It is Canute’s line in the sand now trampled into insignificance by the people who would assert their primordial right to cultural liberty. All we have left are the king’s men beating up kids and old ladies as part of a pyrrhic campaign to clear the beach and restore the sacred lines before the Nazca people forget what they’re for.

As for evidence that I’m working on a plausible labour exchange mechanism, see my comments in this discussion with Doc Searls on his post about enabling people to pay for the production of the news they want (rather than about charging them to read each copy):
PayChoice for Newspapers. And everything else that’s free


1 Contingency Market



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