The Null Device

2000/6/2

John Perry Barlow, Grateful Dead lyricist and cyberpunk extremist, rips into the music industry: (via Virulent Memes)

For these, and far more reasons than I can state here, I'm convinced that the traditional music business is finished. Napster and other environments like it will polish off the likes of BMG and Tower Records within five years... Personally, I can't say I'll miss it. For over a century, it has exploited both musicians and audiences. By its proprietary practices and crass insistence on mass appeal, it has desertified the ecology of auditory epiphany, impoverished genius, fattened lawyers, turned plastic into gold, and offered gilded plastic in return.
The graceful industries go down gently when they've outlived their utility, but doesn't appear that this one is going to. They appear prepared to bury with themselves an entire epoch of music under a thick crust of copyright law, leaving a century-sized hole in the history of music.
I want to exercise some control over what happens to the songs for which I was the mere conduit. I don't want them to be altered, abused, exploited, or used by others for their own commercial purposes. Developing the proper legal and ethical instruments to assure me that ability will be tricky. But more than control, I want my songs ... to be free to roam the world and be loved by as many as can appreciate their occasional beauty.

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