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Andrew's Mailbag My mailbag is one one of the best things about this job. Yes, there are flame-o-grams, but these are quite rare, and the people most likely to send them are too busy reprogramming their computers to show pictures of bunnies when my name comes up to flame me.

Another reason I don't seem to get very much hostile email is that people know they'll get a reply. Since the purpose of the flame is theraputic, the last thing a dedicated nutter wants to do is engage in a conversation.

Now, I don't normally publish the most appreciative. But I'll make an exception for once, with my reader's name omitted to save his blushes.

It refers to an analysis of why the Digital Rights lot failed so spectacularly with the Digital Economy Bill - while the photographers scored a success.

First off, I'd like to say that your article was absolutely brilliant. Biting, with a clear target and the ammunition to take down an army without a brain or a soul. You've got balls.

Second, I'd like to say that I admire the fact that more and more of your articles are comments enabled lately. This going along with having balls, and is the main reason I'm e-mailing you. How do you deal with having the entire freetard army mobilize against you every single time you write an article detailing - with incredible precision - the exact reason(s) the freetards have (once again, completely and utterly) failed?

I simply don't know how you do it, Andrew - coming under fire from the likes of ORG supporters seems to me that it'd be a bit like finding yourself at the bottom of a dogpile made up completely of over the hill and severely incontinent Chinese watercrested dogs. Lastly, as someone who firmly believes that it _is_ possible - albeit infinitely more harder than with label assistance - to make it on your own as a band. I am sure there are just as many examples of independent success in England as there are in America, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Most musicians will give up seriously pursuing music when they realize they can't make anything more than a subsistence living without signing to a somewhat decent label.

Why don't freetards realize this?

While reading through your comments I noticed a common trend - the old "the record industry should die!" mentality rearing its ugly (and antiquated) head. I am unsure as to if the same thing happened in England, but in America we've all ready got that - freetards here all ready got their payday. Labels here are all ready unwilling to take risks, to sign and fund anything but a sure thing; whereas once regional or indie label success led to a fat deal at a label like Interscope or EMI, now it merely leads to continued "success" on a label that can't offer you the support it should. Early freetards wanted Touch and Go and SubPop to grow into the next Interscope or EMI without realizing that their very business models prevented it.

Now we have the most homogenized industry in the world with the least amount of innovation or artistic integrity (and I don't blame the musicians, if you have to sell jingles to Burger King to pay the bills then that's just what you've got to do) and, despite the fact that all the freetards complain about it, it's exactly what they wanted. The fact that "the internet" won't fund a band's success, won't pay for their tours, won't buy their merch, won't argue with a bar manager when he shirks you out of your guarantee, won't engage in the _business_ of being in a band, seems to be completely lost on these freeloading numpties.

Sorry for that overly long run-on. There are some of us here who have seen what's coming for the United Kingdom and we dread it. Your articles and most of the people you interview - especially the brilliant businessmen in the industry that are just outside the major labels - seem to indicate the same sort of dread.

I fear that ORG and the British freetards won't stop until they've destroyed the very thing that both they and the labels take advantage of: the (all too vulnerable) musicians. Thank you for fighting the good fight in the face of insurmountable opposition from all sides.

Actually, passionate single-issue readers pose quite a different problem. Take the anti-copyright campaigners for example: a lousy turnout at demos and flash mobs, and a vote half the size of the average number of spoiled ballot papers. I wouldn't exactly call this insurmountable. It's more like a weird health cult (fruitarians, maybe?) that's mostly harmless, but will never quite go away.

Not everybody agrees. This one refers to Google suing a tiny blues record company:

From: john smith [anonymous gmail account]

Subject: wow, your journalism is awfully biased.

google asked them to forego rights to sue google on this issue which they refused. of course google is going to clear the matter up. i noticed comments are disabled on this. methinks it's because your reasoning is so full of holes. theinquirer.net has a far more unbiased fact full article than yours.

I'm also guessing your a apple fanboy. I've taken the liberty of adjusting foxreplace to replace your name on websites with "content mafia biased twit" so that I will not hold any personal grudges and will forget your name quickly.

Cool.

Our interview with Beggars founder Martin Mills (MBE) and his views on the future of the record label really got a great response. I'll leave aside emails from inside the industry and give you a selection from civilians:

Martin Mills you are a LEGEND!

Did I actually just read my first ever article about Digital Music that was intelligent and based around the fans, the musicians and the record companies??? About time!!! 90% of all the chat about digital music comes from people who don't give a sh*t about music. Governments and share holders. The shareholders care only for their profits and governments care only to control us. Martin Mills clearly demonstrates how the web can be a win win win situation for musicians, record companies [minus shareholders] and fans.

The rub is this. Large record companies need to spend many many millions to get their artist promoted and rise above the rest and they need big money from their sales to do this. In a world where fans and musicians organically find each other and remain connected with each other, these mega budgets are not needed for. Governments are funded, lobbied and involved in these companies and therefore are obliged to do what they want, hence "Mandybill"

If we did put fans, musicians and record companies first then we would have lots of radical new systems developed that would increase the amount of music listened to and would benefit all. Unfortunately 90% of the time it is the money that is talking.

Lee


I gotta agree with you Andrew. As an indie music publisher/artist from North Carolina, the internet is the way to go. Before, hip hop artists from NC had to travel to New York just to gain acceptance from a music community who didn't like your accent/style anyway. I agree, major labels are only about control, that's it. That's their down fall. When they use to charge $17.00 for a CD in 1999, that pissed of the customer. That's why HeavyWeight Music Publishing is a record label and publishing entity. The majors are only good for marketing now!

H


A great interview with a bloke who has some very sensible and pragmatic ideas ... What is he doing working in the music industry?!

Nice to see someone reject the all-you-can-eat model as nonsense, and go for BT giving access to 20 downloads a month for an extra £10 (not that I'd pay for that model ... just like I didn't buy Nokias Music Phone ... but I guess many would). Also nice to see an appreciation for the iTunes model and read that some labels can still make good album sales, rather than just pick-and-mix downloads.

About the only thing he isn't going to get is a government agency to run his b2b licensing organisation. I think he'd be better served by looking to create a licensing body from a collective of (independent) labels (and then hope that the majors join in if/when it proved successful)? Bonds - and lots of forms - would probably make it work on a practical level (though there would always be bad apples) - Though licensing a track for an Australia compilation is always going to prove dodgy, I would have thought? Unless that works as a one off fee - does it, I don't know? - Then tracking sales in any foreign country is going to be nigh on impossible for a small label ... Maybe if a successful "agency" was setup, then they might be better at policing it ... But the cost of said agency just went through the roof.

Always good to read someone in music.biz talking sense, with some achievable aims and a strategy based on practicality, rather than the (false) promise of creating millionaires out of a bunch of lads playing down the Dog & Duck.

Cheers, Andy H

Just one quibble: I think the existence of (say) Robbie Williams demonstrates that the major's promise isn't entirely a false one. There will be a global market for global entertainers, that's fair enough. But there aren't too many Robbie Williamses.


Great interview Andrew,

The last few paragraphs are where the real points were made however, and I don’t think they were quite the points Martin Mills was trying to get across. The fact that we had to wait for itunes to come along sort of puts the lie to the assertion that “We're at the mercy of the market leaders, they frame the market, and we have to operate within it." I guess Martin has to ( at the moment), but we as customers don’t have to, and in fact have been choosing not to (operate within the market) in ever increasing numbers from what I can tell. If the CD sales trends continue, the major labels as we know them will cease to exist, and leave the way open for clever blokes like Martin to find a way to connect the bands with the customers.

The whole point is that we don’t mind paying for music, but we want to do it on our terms, and at a reasonable price. Thanks for all your work

Alistair Young


Excellent, thanks for that. Nice to see a balanced and realistic view of the revolution in music - the losses from the top end of the market, the enhancement of the "new middle classes" of bands and that fans are continuing to explore later in their life. That particular point reminded me of the PRS report that showed Spotify having more 50+ than teenage users. All refreshing and reminiscent of the early ideas of what this Mp3 revolution would bring, especially when read just after the interview with brokeP, which just reeked of the old Napster, free-for-all, damn the corporations mentality.

Tom Harvey

Finally, the funniest Comment I noticed all week was appended to our story about Nigel Calder's scrapbook of technology predictions from the 1960s.

First acquaint yourself with this sketch of the "WorldBox" (from 1965):

And now click here. ®

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