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Written by Tommi on 17.02.2009 11:01:50

Blog image for entry FREEWARS I've updated my "enemies of the music biz" -list. The former top contender - music piracy - has been replaced by something very similar and of close kin to it: Freewars.

One of the first business areas to enter Freewars is music business. Every new band has to give all their music away for free. Competition is so fierce, that no newcomer can charce for his work.

(Thanks to Miikka Leinonen for the quote, read his book on free... for FREE!)

I've been kind of worried about the music market being so totally over-the-top oversaturated these days, but as a music lover, I've kind of let myself think it's nothing but a great thing. So many options to choose from.

Basically we're quickly reaching a point where you don't need to reach for nasty virtual back alleys to get your music fix for free. There's so much nice and legal sources of absolutely free music around that it's seriously making paying for music just plain dumb. Just a quick stroll through services like Last.fm, Spotify and MySpace will provide you with more music you could listen to in your lifetime and they're just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

As a consumer, obviously I'm seriously digging this. More money in my pocket. As a musician, I'm kinda hesitantly optimistic about it as it's never been as easy to get my music across to people all around the world. I admit I'm the kind of narcissistic loser that constantly stalks how many people listen to my music on Last.fm and it's a seriously rewarding treat to notice how many people around the world are listening to Viola, for example.

As a label dude, I really don't give a hoot. We've never meant to make a long-term living out of If Society. It's always been more of a hobby than a profession and "I can stop whenever I want to" has been a cliché I've wanted to stick by. Once the day comes that I feel the world has no need for us anymore, it's time to stop. I've got other skills that pay my bills. Obviously, poetry seems to be one of said skills.

My beef here is more in the field of cultural anthropology and contiunuation of something I've more or less based my life upon. Once the parameters are such that there's simply no way to generate revenue (still to be translated in this context as "covering costs" instead of "makin' the big buck$$$"), it becomes impossible to create music in a professional way. Don't get me wrong, I have no fear that music would stop altogether. I'm just saying that it's expensive to make a good quality record and if there's no way to cover the costs, I'm sure a lot of potential classics will not be made.

Then again, maybe it's a good thing to throttle the amount of new music created. Maybe it'd give people more mental capacity to also appreciate the classics more than just running from one fad to another.

I'd also be quite happy to see all the people making music for money (obviously people who don't know crap about economics, statistics or mathematics) disappear. Arttu Tolonen (of Black Audio, Giant Robot/Räbät and other great bands) wrote in a column once that having a day job on the side is the best thing that's ever happened to his musical career and I have to agree. It keeps you in check and - to use a dumb cliché - "keeps it real".

Interesting times these digital times.
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Comments (3) 1/3

17.02.2009 23:19:16 Kai wrote : "Running from fad to fad"

I do have to say, the way people talk about music on message boards and things gets me winded. The band that was cool last week is nowhere to be seen in discussions, and people change genre top 5s like their underwear. Of course it has to do at least partly with music being so easily available as (free) streams of bits off the net, meaning the tangibility and permanence of the product (though I hate to use that word) is eroded.

18.02.2009 07:29:10 Tommi wrote

I agree totally.
I especially hate this in the indie domain. The reason I got into "alternative" music is that it seemed people were more into the music than the fad in that context. Mainstream seemed to be a total flavor-of-the-month scene with no loyalty towards artists and very little long-term commitment to what you loved.

Nowadays I feel like it's flipped a full 180. Indie is the disposable commodity that mainstream was and the current climate in the music biz is forcing mainstream to try to build longer careers. Indie bands lose their momentum already before their first record comes out.

What a bummer.

17.11.2009 20:46:52 Hannu Oskala wrote

I'm all okay if these "Freewars" come about by the artists - if (and this is a IF with capital letters) giving your products for free is the best business model possible, then thus it shall be. Some sort of cultural evolution will eventually take us there. And it might be the best option for some, especially those that don't manufacture "immaterial cultural products" as their profession.

But I'm all against the way Freewars are being advocated by for example the Pirate Party. That is just plain stupid, evil and inconsiderate. And they don't seem to care at all about all the side implications of their policies etc.
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