A New Utopia / The Cost of Freeloading

Now don’t get me wrong, the internet is a wonderful thing. Without it – without the humming copper or glowing fibres spun between continents, deep under oceans, hidden under pavements or loosely hanging from telegraph poles, this blog wouldn’t reach er, an average of 20 people a day and neither would the treasure trove of 80:8 photo’s be available to the whole wide world and yet be seen by less than the volume of people in the Nether Wallop paper shop. Deep breath. All of which is a preamble for a book review I’ve just read about “Free Ride: How the internet is destroying the culture business and how the culture business can fight back

It’s an interesting piece about the parasitic nature of the best bits of the internet. How it bites the hand that feeds until there is no economic justification for the hand to continue. You like your music free? You like your news free? You like your films and video’s free? A lot of culture is produced because people have the burning desire to create. But they have to eat also. If they can’t justify the expense of producing Avatar or The Sunday Times, they’ll stop. And what will Google index and serve up then? The new utopia would have us believe everything should be free. That’s how Google likes it. The more that is free, the more that is indexable, the more pay for clicks they can sell. All sold under the utopian vision of everything for free. We’ve been working with lots of young bands recently. Talented, passionate and creatively lucid people who give us something for the soul, our heads and our feet. And god, how they struggle to persuade people to buy a CD for £2.99. They spend £1000 on studio sessions, buy their gear, rehearse and seemingly it’s not worth anything. How can that be? How can that be sustainable? Apply the pain of the music industry to journalism and films and what is the ultimate conclusion? What the author, Robert Levine, goes on to say is “it’s amazing how easy the internet makes it to destroy a business without creating another one in it’s place”. Trades and business die out, usually they are replaced. Not now they are not. Now, they simply die and perhaps we’ll rue the day.

Full circle and I think the story of survival is again a little part of the ethos of 80:8. Only deliver stuff the man in the street can’t. That’s why we use lights with everything. That’s why we’re moving into video. That’s why bands should release vinyl. Alternatively, keep up with the zeitgeist and remain on the pulse. So don’t release another CD – release an App instead. One thing I know. The future is mobile, whatever that means. The new utopia, generally,  is espoused by people who see themselves as some kind of digital guerilla, while at the same time they support the intentions of some of the biggest corporations in the world.

The internet is a wonderful thing. Fire can cook your food, keep you warm and light your way. And of course, it can burn your house down.


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