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What's in iJamming! Music
Fri, Mar 8, 2002
From the Jamming! Archives:
PAUL WELLER
interviewed in 1978
"A number one single would be a bit scary."
The iJamming! interview:
CARL COX
"'Acid Trax' by Phuture came out and I was just 'Okay, forget all hip hop and all old school rare groove right here, this is it.'"
The Best Of 2001
Tony Fletcher's Top Albums, Concerts, Singles and Books
Strange Currencies:
R.E.M. at Carnegie Hall
In his room:
Brian Wilson at the Festival Hall
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
Latest album reviews
HEDONISM:
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother
The iJAMMING! interview: DAVID SYLVIAN
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
The iJAMMING! chat:
MARK PERRY

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
TRAVIS.
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
LLOYD COLE
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
SUPERDRAG
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
The full iJamming! Contents
IT'S MY PARTY AND I'LL LIE IF I WANT TO
Michael Greene's deceitful Grammy speech, a.k.a.: An Invitation to Download
Normally I avoid the Grammys like the plague. But the line-up this year - both of live talent and nominees, which always overlaps - was genuinely interesting. And not only were the vast number of performances surprisingly entertaining and/or emotional but awards mostly went to people who deserved them. For example:

Who can complain that 20-year old Alicia Keys won Best New Artist, allowing that she tore herself away from her first major label deal (with Sony) when the label described her self-recorded masters as ‘demos’ and insisted she redid them with a big-name producer? (Many of those so-called demos made it to her finished, multi platinum album)
Who would deny T-Bone Burnett his repeated trips to the podium as producer of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a soundtrack that revived an entire genre of traditional American music?
Who would dispute that Outkast are the most original and entertaining rap group out there?
Who would not say that Coldplay made a great ‘alternative’ album, or Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliott a great rap single, or Nelly Furtado a great pop single?
Who could not get off on seeing the pensionable Ralph Stanley perform the haunting ‘O Death,’ or India.Arie singing her gorgeous feminist statement ‘Video’ on national television?

And while there are those who run a mile from the sight of Bono Vox pontificating at any awards ceremony, who would really dispute that All That You Can’t Leave Behind is U2’s most consistent, mature and honest album of their not inconsiderable catalogue?

So why oh why did the whole surprisingly pleasant presentation have to be ruined by Michael Greene’s appalling speech accusing the home viewing audience of effectively ruining the music industry via digital downloads and CD-ripping? Greene is President/CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) and is credited with making the Grammys more modern (I.e. youth-oriented) in recent years? If file-sharing booms in the next 12 months and record sales decline accordingly, he can take the credit for that as well. Never have I seen a speech so likely to have the adverse effect of its intention.

It amazes me that eighteen months after I posted my personal views about Music And The Web upon the launch of ijamming!, the music industry has done nothing of substance to counter the public’s demand for online music - other than lobby to shut down Napster, with the easily-foreseeable result that dozens of other, purely peer-to-peer applications have arisen in its wake. I just returned to that essay I wrote all that time ago, and see that almost word for word, it still holds true - so much so that I don’t feel the need to regurgitate all my views here on a separate page.

However, in the interest of presenting both sides of the argument, which is far more than Michael Greene did when he hijacked the closing minutes of the Grammys to hector the home audience about their legal responsibilities, I will reprint his speech, taken verbatim from the official Grammys site.

“You're tuned in tonight because you are passionate about music, you're fans of these great artists. That very special connection between the fan and the artist is an historically important partnership, one which enriches and entertains the public, motivating and sustaining the creator. In recent years, industry consolidation combined with the unbridled advance of the Internet has created a disturbing disconnect in our relationship, and trends say it promises to get worse.

No question the most insidious virus in our midst is the illegal downloading of music on the Net. It goes by many names and its apologists offer a myriad of excuses. This illegal file sharing and ripping of music files is pervasive, out of control and oh so criminal. Many of the nominees here tonight, especially the new, less-established artists, are in immediate danger of being marginalized out of our business. Ripping is stealing their livelihood one digital file at a time, leaving their musical dreams haplessly snared in this World Wide Web of theft and indifference.”

Great speech-writing, but entirely deceitful. There are many fans of music, indeed many musicians, who would insist that the most ‘insidious’ virus in our midst is in fact the consolidation of the majors, which has raised the sales barrier for profitability and is locking out all manner of artists who could previously have survived on a major label with lesser sales. These talents are being forced to look elsewhere for distribution, promotion and access to an audience; thank God the World Wide Web provides them with that opportunity.

The notion that “Many of the nominees here tonight, especially the new, less established artists, are in immediate danger of being marginalized out of our business” is dishonest; these nominees just got their entry to the mainstream, and will likely join the 5% of acts on major labels who can anticipate seeing some real royalties. The acts that are in “immediate danger of being marginalized out of our business” as Greene put it, are the ones who sign to major labels in the hope of getting properly promoted and distributed only to find themselves having signed for modest amounts of money that quickly run out as they get put in a holding pattern for months on end; who finally get to record, but at the label’s discretion as to where, when, what and with whom; who have their releases delayed and marketing budgets stripped as A&R men come and go and the genre they exist in moves from today’s buzz to yesterday’s news; and who ultimately see their albums released with a minimum of promotion or empathy. The conclusion is sadly familiar and heartbreaking: once the artist tells the label they would like to leave, maybe to go back to an indie that identifies with them, they are set an impossible price for a buy-out that locks them in eternal limbo. Many of the bands break up in disappointment; solo artists give up. Those that survive this 5-year process often have to start all over again.
But hey, those are the breaks! Now back to the speech.

"You've seen glimpses of kids backstage working on computers throughout the evening and are probably wondering what they're doing. Well, we asked three college-age students to spend two days with us and download as many music files as possible from easily accessible Web sites. Please say hello to Numair, Stephanie and Ed. In just a couple of days they have downloaded nearly 6,000 songs. That's three kids, folks. Now multiply that by millions of students and other computer users and the problem comes into sharp focus. Songwriters, singers, musicians, labels, publishers - the entire music food chain is at serious risk. The RIAA estimates that - now listen to this - an astounding 3.6 billion songs are illegally downloaded every month."

This patronizing use of the ‘students’ - the “kids” - was particular insulting not only to home viewers, who recognise a set-up when they see one, but to the poor embarrassed kids themselves who visibly winced at being shown live on national TV and clearly recognised that they had been set up as stooges. Too late for them, but here’s some food for thought.

One downloading expert has already done the math: unless the ‘kids’ were kept up for those entire 48 hours without sleep or rest, on a tweaked, super-faster than-you’ll ever have at home-computer connection, they simply could not have downloaded the number of songs Greene claimed. At ten hours a day over two days, on the fastest connection any of us can hope for, they would have to have downloaded 100 songs an hour each. Can your computer work at that speed?

Neil Strauss of the New York Times, who observes the whole file sharing/music industry scene with the eye of a hawk, successfully contacted one of the ‘students’ - who turns out not to be a student at all, no surprise - and discovered that the trio in fact worked three days, were mostly ‘sent’ files across AOL Instant Messenger by friends (a very different process than going out to find the music from “easily accessible web sites”), and that many of the downloads never completed or came through whatsoever.

Even then, “multiply that (6000 songs) by millions of students and other computer users and...” And what, Mr Greene. What do you prove? Let me quote a posting from the ‘techdirt’ weblog, which sounds very much like the comments I put up on this site 18 months ago. “Because they downloaded 6,000 songs does it mean that they would have gone out and bought those 6,000 songs on CDs at $18 a pop? Does it mean that they won't find something they like in those 6,000 songs which will cause them to go out and buy a CD or see a show of a band they otherwise never would have heard of?” No, of course not. To suggest otherwise is entirely disingenuous.

But we can do even better. As the anonymous host of the Boycott-RIAA web site points out, Michael Greene and his cronies “hired three students, gave them computers and told them to download all the songs they could. Unless the students were downloading from a specific, dedicated server where they had permission to be downloading” (in which case the test was rigged and Greene was lying to the millions of viewers), then they hired someone to break the law. You've got it on video tape. You announced it to the world,The three students are guilty of violating the No Electronic Theft Act. N.A.R.A.S. can not grant immunity under federal law, nor can Michael Greene, nor the labels for that matter.” These students could be prosecuted, and acquire criminal records, just for the gratification of Mr Greene’s self-serving purposes. Except, if they aren’t prosecuted for such a flagrant violation of the law, then what message is Greene sending out? That it’s okay to download under certain circumstances, when it suits your cause? Isn’t that what most of the ‘kids’ think anyway?

I apologise for interrupting Mr Greene’s speech. None of us were given the opportunity to do so when it went out live. Back to the propaganda.


“This problem won't be solved in short order. It's going to require education, leadership fromWashington and true diligence to help our fans - that would be you - to embrace this life and death issue and support our artistic community by only downloading your music from legal Web sites. That will ensure that our artists reach even higher and, deservedly, get paid for their inspired work.”

Those who were unfortunate enough to view this appalling speech while waiting for the final awards will know that Greene pointed his finger at the home audience while saying “that would be you,” and by his big brother manner did more in one moment of prime time TV to encourage kids to download and rip music than any number of web sites or chat rooms. I’ve never felt so inclined to disobey authority in my life.

Still, I’m someone with a little experience in this area. Many of The Tv viewers may not have been, and many of the parents may have turned to their kids and said, You know, that man made a valid point on TV. I don’t want you downloading any more songs off that internet thingy you have in your room. (Not that those parents would promptly say, here’s $100, go buy 6 CDs instead.)

And so, in the interests of a democratic debate, here are TEN things Michael Greene did NOT tell the viewing audience:

Click here to continue. (Please do: it's useful information.)

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