Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On the suit

The “Blurred Lines”/“Got to Give it Up” judgment is the latest in silly copyright cases (heres a good musicological argument against it), but there is one detail that has been mostly ignored:

The $7.3 million number beats the record high judgment in a copyright infringement suit.

A relevant counterpoint from my book (Chapter 7):

. . . where art intersects with commerce, progress traps occur too. In a capitalist system, artists, labels, technology companies, and other music professionals naturally seek to grow their profits. (“If you sell fifty million records one year and seventy the next year,” notes Jeff Gold, describing the expansion of Warner Music in the 1990s, then soon someone is going to ask “how are you going to sell eighty?”) As elites become more efficient at producing, marketing, and selling music, that increased efficiency stresses the system. Music becomes, as William Patry puts it, “a zero sum game, where the more people vie for the top, the fewer make it, but the rewards are disproportionately greater.” In the process, the thoughtful listener is left with a nagging feeling that just as we cannot understand music outside of recording, or our own thoughts about it outside of writing, it is now difficult to even conceive of it outside of money—outside of our transactional roles as producers, consumers, or both.  

My friends complain about modern pop all the time. I wish I could evaluate it in aesthetic terms. But I feel like I can’t even hear it. It sounds like money to me. I hear the money that went into the production. I hear the money that went into the promotion. I hear the money that is being exchanged every time it is performed. I hear the money that is expected as a kind of birthright. Lord help me, I cant get past the money. 

Call me crazy, but I think thats a problem.


Stanley Jason Zappa said...

here's some crazy talk...are we really to believe that this court room drama along with the record breaking fantastical settlement is something that happened outside the parent culture's calculations? Are we really supposed to believe this came as a surprise to the ultra litigious "center firms" of the so called entertainment industry?

Are Thicke et. al. going to have to put down their samplers and get jobs whipping cows on the labia at the feed lot in order to pay for this dramatic triumph/failure of justice?

Will this finally be the wooden spike in the heart of Warner music, followed by going out of business signs?

There's also a real pathos that comes with the news that musicologists are making "musicological arguments" one way or the other...isn't this just more wolf Blitzer nonsense to distract the Death Co. viewership from the declining value of that $7.3 million? Because really, what does any of this have to do with music?

I guess idiot musicologists can't help but want their time in the idiot spot light just like any other idiot...

Andrew Durkin said...

"Because really, what does any of this have to do with music?"

Ah, that's exactly what I would have written if I had had the presence of mind to do so. Instead I've been fuming all day. . .