Meant to post this yesterday, but I forgot:

This morning's BBC Breakfast did a short segment on "what it's like to be a young recording artist". They cut to a shot of $PFY at his computer, with a sound editor open, who plays us his most recent piece of sampled electronic beatz. It's reasonably pleasant, for that sort of thing — so okay, fair enough, he's at least moderately talented.

The voice over tells us how modern technology has made creating music much simpler for $PFY than it would have been in the past — he can do everything in the privacy of his mum's home that previously would have taken a recording studio and a lot of expensive machinery. But, the voice over continues, technology has its downsides too. For every track $PFY sells legally, a much larger proportion is illegally pirated, which cuts into his profits!

Of course, they're making the standard recording industry false assumption: that every person who has downloaded an illegal copy of this artist's work would have bought it if it weren't available illegally. This is patent bull-crap — people download things for a variety of reasons, not least of which is to have a decent listen to a track before they decide whether they want to purchase it. (This has been better argued by people smarter and more thorough than myself — with figures and everything — but my Google-Fu is failing me. Any links, anybody?)

I would have thought the real reason that $PFY is struggling to sell tracks would be staring everybody in the face. If every monkey with a computer and a lot of free time on their hands can do effectively the same thing as $PFY, it's going to be a lot harder for him to convince anybody that his efforts stand out in quality. It's a buyer's market, basically — it's less tempting for random internetters to buy one of his tracks when there are a hundred very similar MP3s being offered for free. It's much harder for him to get gigs when the organiser's nephew's roommate is offering their DJ skillz for the price of a case of beer. And it's hard for him to find agents when the pool of people jumping up and shouting "ME! ME! ME!" is pretty much the entire population of the UK. (Pardon my hyperbole).

And then there's the X-Factor effect, and what that's done to the public perception of what music is and how it is manufactured... but that's a different rant.


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