Free Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose

Friday, April 10, 2009


By some estimates for every 1 legally downloaded song in the U.S. another 40 are pirated. But in China some 99 percent of digital music is stolen. So last week Google announced a collaboration with the music industry to give the Chinese people what has long been anathema - more then a million songs for free. Music journalist Greg Kot explains the business sense in giving away the store.

    Music Playlist
  • Failure (Alfie Remix)
    Artist: Kings Of Convenience

Comments [10]

darb from tx

The concept is not that new, and other music sites offer full song 128-bit streaming to patrons of the site . accompanied with page ad revenue , though streaming is not the same as downloading there are so many free stream capture plug-ins and software that it is not much more than an amenity to use. Maybe in the future D.R.M. will have it's day but if marketers learn to exploit this niche of revenue it will not mean much more than tearing the "do not remove" tag from your mattress.

May. 23 2009 05:21 PM
Bilal Carter

Free is a great word to spread around. Is this music really for free? It’s free to the public in a certain way. Google still has a way to in fact make a profit by selling advertisements to those who are stealing the songs. All of the revenue that Google makes is shared with music industries. The new scheme is something is better than nothing, because we the people are stealing it anyways. It’s another scheme in order to produce money for the music that they make. I just wonder also how come America has not adopted this form of music sharing and get on with the program because it’s going to happen anyways so them might as well jump on board early and sell these advertisement spots.

Apr. 27 2009 05:25 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

As one of a very few actors, playrights, performance and graphic artists, musicians, storytellers and journalists who has chosen life-long to put his work in the Publc Domain, I can testify to the sacrifices one can go through for the love of one's talents. Too often the talents of others' have been exploited and subverted by the corporate world.

We, now, have tools to break the corporate monopolies on the exploitation of our talents, however we need to develop the business sense to exploit them for ourselves instead of depending on the corporations to market them.

I should know her name. but I recall a reporter covering the McCain campaign, who I see frequently on the Rachel Maddow Show, and she had to raise money online to pay for her return bus trip when one of her sponsors went out of business. She appered to be quite a "freelancer", if you discount appearing on MSNBC.

I used to say, "They can't outsource your job, if you're Frank Sinatra," but now I prefer to use Julie Andrews as the example. When she lost the gift of song, she didn't just sit around feeling sorry for herself. She exploited her other talents.

No longer have that kind of ambition, myself.

Apr. 14 2009 10:15 PM
Debbie Pearl from Greenport

Musicians, writers, film makers and all those who work hard alongside them may do what they do for the love of it, but unless they are properly compensated for their work, they won't be able to sustain themselves for the long haul--they'll be lost to a "day job." How will this generation's and the next one's Brian Wilson make a living in the industry? Greg Kot's on-air comments reflect a prevailing attitude among rock critics who would have recording artists make three great albums and then die... and if we all rely on mash-ups for our musical entertainment? All we'll be left to listen to, and build on, will be amateur-hour derivatives of derivatives and so on - and we all know how derivatives worked out for the global economy: We ended up with nothing. And as Billy Preston said: "nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'." Or as Bob Dylan said on this very subject in a recent interview, "it's fitting that it's free cause it ain't worth nothin' anyhow..."

And don't get me started on China and their supposed "free market." I wouldn't want to live under their economic system (or their political system, for that matter) and certainly wouldn't want any aspect of it imported to the U.S. or anywhere else. Try logging on to Google from within China. See what happens when you search for anything anti-government. They can keep their free music.

Apr. 13 2009 10:53 AM

I'm willing to go so far and say many musicians will create music because of their love of it, or love of the lifestyle and the "sex, drugs and rock and roll", or adoration from lives shows. That being said, even if this is true it still doesn't account for the brilliance of Brian Wilson, who didn't tour, locked himself in a studio and created Pet Sounds, which today would have no business model and no record label support.

And it doesn't account for the fact that even if musicians will still make music and writers will still write, no one will best boy for films, or do lighting, for free. Other forms of art will soon be affected...

Apr. 13 2009 03:07 AM
Geo8rge from Brooklyn

Evidently Thru-you is having bandwidth problems. Search Youtube on Kutiman.

For example:

Apr. 12 2009 12:33 PM
Andy from NYC

As a professional musician and songwriter who has been signed to several major labels (and been ripped off more than once), I still have to take Mr. Greg Kot to task. His comments on how musicians are "crazy" and "doing it purely for the love of music" et al., are nothing less than pure patronization. Sure, we love what we do, and we're willing to fail - but anyone who commits their professional life to music for the long haul wants to get paid. We're no crazier than anyone else who starts a business in a field that they love. I hope at some point you decide to host someone (not a record label executive) who will rebut Mr. Kot's frankly reprehensible views. If American record companies steal money, and listeners in China steal music, that's unfortunate indeed, but Mr. Kot is doing nothing to ameliorate the situation - in fact, he's aiding and abetting the steady degradation in value of both music and musicians.

Apr. 12 2009 11:15 AM
Debbie Pearl from Greenport

This story was very unfair to musicians. Don't the "artists" that Greg Kot describes deserve to be paid for their work? Or does their desire to make & share their music with the public transcend their need to make a living, eat, pay rent, have a family. It seems clear to me he's perpetuating the exploitation of the artist/musician into the 21st century. The mucisian is a patsy, yet again. Boo.

Apr. 12 2009 11:05 AM

The On The Media Singers need to release a CD! If they are members of your staff they're not paid enough. If they're actually professional singers they need a manager.

Apr. 11 2009 05:59 PM
Geo8rge from Brooklyn

Free Music: - They have ads, sell special portable players, have a premium service. And since I am not cool enough to chose my own tunes, they do it for me. - Free music mash ups made from copyright free socalled amature talent. Not sure how the masher gets paid, but how much would he have to be paid to support himself doing it. Ok only 8 tracks.

Near Free Music:
Lately I have been buying $5 CDs of Bangra DJ Mixes from local south asian CD stores. If Western Pop music is going to hassle me about the copyright, screw'em.

Off ebay I bought a new 10 CD box set of Boogie Woogie music that worked out to $0.10/track, the old price from the pre G8 Russian Federation.

Various deal sites advertise full album downloads from legit music download sites for a few dollars.

Apr. 11 2009 02:17 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.