New Music Digest: Summer 2010

Every now and then I gather up some of the more provocative or informative articles I find in my travels in order to compile a digest post such as this one. What follows is an assortment of music-related content I’ve been reading in the last couple of months.

Revealing Shakespeare’s Inner Pirate takes a close look at how culture reinvents itself with bits and pieces of the past. Copyright law, if it respects the public good, should allow for meaningful reinterpretation and outright copying of existing cultural products in order to maintain a healthy creative drive.

Paradox or Paradise: Music Choice in the Digital Age explores the psychological implications of the frustrating overabundance of musical options in today’s marketplace. Where do you even begin with all the music available these days? With an insane number of options available to us we often opt out of deciding and prefer to stick to what we already know.

The Free Music Mirage is a strong critique of the idea that music should be free by Jeremy Schlosberg of Fingertips. I emphatically disagree with his sentiment but this is certainly an article worth reading, if only to better hone our arguments for free music. Similar moral posturing can be found in Why You Should Pay For Music.

The State of Internet Music on YouTube, Pandora, iTunes, and Facebook describes exactly that–from a major label perspective. Graphs and figures illustrate the decline of the album format: “We don’t listen to albums now; we listen to collections of songs.” I’d wager that has a lot to do with major label abuse of the album format: wrapping a lot of forgettable fluff around one or two big hits.

Why Music Should Never Be Given Away For “Free” argues that music should always come at a cost to the consumer–even if it is as simple as an exchange of social capital in the form of signing up for an email newsletter and/or agreeing to share content. Bandcamp presently offers this feature but just about every other example I can think of just feels like spam.

The Problem With Music is an older article by Steve Albini that illustrates how bands are liable to become indebted to a major label after signing a contract, producing an album, and going on tour. It is an eviscerating deconstruction of rock ‘n roll mythology–and a warning to any artist still enamored with the idea of “getting signed.”

Torrenting The Future is an interesting speculative rant about the post-scarcity economy—and what that might look like based on our collective experience with music, movies, and other digital media thus far.

How To Solve Royalty Collection Societies outlines an improbable solution to the problem of collection societies failing to redistribute royalties to small-time artists. Seems to me the only way to fix this issue is to do away with collection societies altogether.

Worrying About Monetising Your Music is Holding You Back is a soft reality check for any artist who feels entitled to earning a living from their art. The author asks: what motivates you to create music? It probably isn’t financial gain, otherwise you would be doing something else.

Creative Commons: What Every Self-Publisher Ought To Know is a basic introduction to CC licensing and what it means for artists. It is an oddly difficult topic to explain to some artists; hopefully this will be of some help.

Mr. Tunes skewers a common industry practice in Rethinking The Remix Contest. He’s right: remix contests aren’t innovative. In fact, they are often quite annoying. Can the remix contest be fixed? Creating a barrier-to-entry might raise the quality of these contests, as noted in the article.

A Guide To The Cultural Battle That Is Reshaping The Media Business is an interesting little article by the CEO of Cheezburger Network (who brought you LOLcats) contrasting popular culture with Internet culture. It doesn’t take much to figure out which side I’m on.

Graham St John, the editor of Dancecult, is out with a new edited collection: Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance. If you would like to take a tour of the academic study of psytrance culture this is a great place to start.


  1. I am indeed loving what you write and the sites you’re finding, and so have followed you on Twitter to keep even more up to date. And may I kindly suggest you take a look at my blog too for some half-cocked but sometimes maybe slightly provocative articles on all things digital DJing? You can find it at Top of the day to you!

  2. What if I you are a semi-luddite like me & don’t/won’t follow you on Twitter? 😛

    But seriously, much as I greatly appreciate all the free music you send our way – I think this has become my favourite part of your site my friend. Keep it up – looking forward to your return – definitely due some chin wagging – safe travels.


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