If the new
generation of music fans have fled to the web because high CD
pricing has pushed them there, perhaps it is left to the web to
bring back the culture of music by returning to them the wonder
of pop. If there is any alternative left to the generation that
can only dream of Britney Spears, then sharing music and its culture
would record companies bother to document the last year of jazz
saxophonist Eric Dolphy's life? Would there be another way to
reconsider Steely Dan's under-whelming Gaucho album without hearing
the interesting demo recordings? Or what chance have we got to
hear Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon live and in album sequence
without music sharing? Not much of a chance at all. If record
companies had their way, history would be buried.
is Killing Music" was the slogan of a 1980s anti-piracy campaign,
by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), a music industry group.
Back then, if you can still remember, the cassette tape recorder
was the popular music duplication device. The music industry feared
that home taping would cause a decline in record sales even though
surveys then showed that the fans who bought the most music were
also the ones who did a lot of taping. The "Home Taping is Killing
Music" mantra became extinct by the mid-80s when the record industry
found salvation in the new CD format.
the rhetoric continued in the other popular arts. In 1982 Jack
Valenti of the Motion Picture Association of America famously
argued that the Video Cassette Tape Recorder would ruin the US
film industry, and this year, Mitch Bainwol of the Record Industry
Association of America claimed that CD burning is hurting music
fans don't realise is that the copyright issue existed from a
long time ago and it was always the industry that tried to stifle
it. Take for example, the issue of screenwriting in Hollywood.
As early as 1905, screenwriters fought for ownership of their
own material lending a New Jersey court to rule that "a photograph
which is not only a light-written picture of some object, but
also an expression of an idea, a thought, a conception of the
one who takes it, it is a 'writing' within the constitutional
sense, and a proper subject of copyright."
It took another
30 years before younger Hollywood writers resumed the battle for
ownership because Hollywood never even covered minimum wages or
minimum periods of employment. In 1927, when the new Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was set up, it was a company
union to protect the interests of the studios. As poet and screenwriter
Dorothy Parker noted: "Looking to the Academy for representation
was like trying to get laid in your mother's house. Somebody was
always in the parlour, watching."
raged on till 1948 when the Supreme Court destroyed the basis
of the Hollywood studio system by breaking its monopoly and reasserting
free trade and more importantly, the "free' distribution of ideas.
The destruction of the big studios paved the way for the independents
to rise and paralleled the increasing ownership of television
In many ways,
we are seeing the same phenomenon in the music biz today. The
fall of many big labels that have been forced to form partnerships
with each other parallels the rise of the internet and an awareness
of fans who want to take control of how they consume music.
music industry is struggling to decide on the next technological
platform to sell music, file sharing remains the only sensible
way in maintaining the culture and ensuring that every generation
of fans will still be around to love the art in whatever form
+ + + + +
Note: Between April and June 2005, BigO collected collected
413 albums amounting to 580 CDs, through trades with music fans
and through music downloads from bit-torrent sites.
For a complete list of all 580 albums, click
Part 1: Is Piracy Or The Music Industry That Is Really Killing