Here’s some vital reading for anyone who’s interested in all this new media 2.0 file sharing web commerce stuffs I’ve been blogging about – The End Of Control – it’s a free e-book that’s been blogged chapter by chapter by its author, Gerd Leonhard (who was featured in the media megatrends video I linked to the other day)
Anyway, he’s a very astute man, but as with most futures analysts speaks with a degree of knowing fatalism… at least it would be fatalism if he hadn’t bought into the idea that this is how the future’s going to be, so hey get used to it. It’s a position common to all futurists that I’ve come across (I guess because the ones who do the research and then try to resist what they then see as the inevitable shifts in whatever area they are looking at end up suffering from severe depression…)
But the book makes some great points about how we deal with the shifts from scarcity to ubiquity, and I’m going to be following the chapters with great eagerness – I’m hoping that somewhere between his brilliantly researched and observed but fatalistic eagerness to embrace the hypermodernity of a global subscription service and my idealism and experience within the more specialist music market (and their heightened sense of the social contract), I can come up with something of enduring value to contribute to the discussion!
He’s still largely talking from the assumption that all artists should want their music everywhere, regardless of the context, arguing that ubiquity is better for your ultimate income stream. But there are big problems with that when you start considering works of art to have innate integrity that can be damaged (by, for example, distributing it via low-res edited MP3…) – his stuff in Chapter 2 about copyright comes dangerously close to saying ‘well, we’re fucked if we think we can own anything any more, so we might as well settle for whatever crumbs a globalised license will drop into our begging bowl.
There are a couple of really pernicious assumptions at the heart of this – a) that because the technology is there to steal all the content now, we might as well roll with it and see if we can surreptitiously extract some meagre revenue further down the line and b) all artists should accept that their art is there to be engaged with largely on an entirely peripheral level, as a disposable binary file where the terms of engagement are entirely defined by the makers of portable computer technology, rather than by any artists at all… As someone who aspires to make music that is important, real, and part of me over and above music that is profitable, popular and marketable, i find those assumptions difficult to stomach, but they do give me some kind of distance from his model which is helpful for formulating an alternative (if there ends up being one…)
But for now, go and grab the RSS feed from EndOfControl.com, it’s going to be a really interesting ongoing discussion…by