The Walrus Blog

Georgetown, South Carolina March 1 2008
GEORGETOWN, SOUTH CAROLINA—I am writing from a gorgeous historic town, thick with Spanish moss and fishing boats. But the whole thing is tainted by the rancid smell carried in the warm Southern breeze that pervades the entire town.

Georgetown dates back to 1729. It was populated by people who obtained wealth from indigo and rice crops grown by enslaved African people. They displayed their wealth by getting their free labourers to build them mansions like Kaminski House Museum—Described on tours, with a rationalizing flourish and no irony, as “African-American craftsmanship.”

Slavery was their ticket to ride so with post-Civil War reconstruction (1865-1876) came a gradual decline in business. By the 1900s pulp and paper took over the town and in the 1940s International Paper built what was the biggest paper mill in the world in the centre of the town. Georgetown’s history became overshadowed by the reek of raw industrial processes.

The sulphur smell here nauseates me.

Much like the music industry and the RIAA. Their whole deal makes me want to puke. Since early music file sharing like Napster and its progeny, the reaction of the music industry has been dead wrong. Instead of transforming the architecture of their business, they went all litigious. Shortsighted. Stinky.

Last night Trent Reznor, lead of Nine Inch Nails, went solo and released out of the blue (well die-hard fans had hints) Ghosts, an instrumental collection. Nine tracks are downloadable for free immediately from his site and also on Pirate Bay. To hear the rest you can pay varying amounts depending on if you want high quality visuals and extras. Since the album is described as the “result of working from a very visual perspective” there is some incentive to step up and pay.

Trent Reznor describes Ghosts as possible only because of the current status of the music industry. In other words the industry as a floundering beast flapping its enormous empty maw at torrent users. Last year both Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead took first steps as brand name musicians toying with potential models to work with and not against consumer desire and the model of free music.

The past week has seen much anti-RIAA press over courtroom defeats and articles about artist fury over lack of payouts. It is an ideal climate to take innovative steps.

Music consumers think the music industry stinks. And musicians seem like the only ones creative and strong enough to make non-smelly change.

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  • Sam I Am

    Morality has been the backbone of commerce for thousands of years. The complicated and self-deluding arguments that people offer to defend taking without paying for something properly for sale are old and tired, and discredited in courts all over the world.

    Legal and fair online digital distribution of media and entertainment has been around for years and this whole issue now rests on whether a just society can allow the taking without paying of product that is intended for sale. The world’s governments will see to it that the promise of online commerce and digital distribution is not lost to a band of online pirates and that, at the end of the day, is the point. Real fans of music, movies and books online have always put their money where their mouth is and still do.

  • Lobo

    “Morality has been the backbone of commerce for thousands of years.”

    Yeah right. The RIAA have been illegally colluding over prices, ripping off artists and consumers alike, for decades. The whole concept of copyright is an artificial, anti-capitalist, anti-free trade construct originally created to protect publishers – not creators – and then extended and twisted over the years into an utter joke.

    The record industry is obsolete; they’ve had a good run through the 20th century and managed to exploit technology in ways that allowed them to make money from the creativity of others in ways that would were impossible prior to those technologies coming into place. Now technology has moved on further and made them obsolete. Audio recording and engineering equipment is comparatively inexpensive these days, and the Internet provides a marketing and distribution channel – creators can self-produce without artistic compromise, then communicate directly with their fanbase without middlemen unfairly profiting off both parties. In some sense, it’s almost a return to the state prior to recordable media and the ensuing record industry.

  • http://www.chantelleoliver.com Chantelle Oliver

    Updates:

    The acceptability of P2P took another big step forward over the weekend, as accounts claiming to be ‘the official profile for NIN’ appeared on a number of torrent sites, including The Pirate Bay and the private trackers What.cd and Waffles.fm. NIN has now confirmed that these accounts indeed belong to the band.
    (from TorrentFreek)

    and
    Nine Inch Nails Sells Out Of $300 Deluxe Edition In Under Two Days
    (Techdirt)


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