Archive for November, 2008

STIM for and against IPRED

The Swedish musician Jonas Almquist writes an interesting debate article about the suggested IPRED-law. Parts of it is great. He tells about the income based on gigs and not on record sales for his band The Leather Nun. He tells about this law as unnecessary for music creators, that it only supports the large record companies. He thinks that the record companies will finance their hunt for pirates with money that the artists create. I have similar thoughts.

After a while he gets into party-political reasoning, which is unnecessary I think. Our different parties have similar thoughts anyway. But the really strange part of his article is this: He tells about the copyright organization STIM that they do not want the law. It’s a big issue in his article: “The strange thing about the IPRED-suggestion is that it dont have support by the copyright owners own organisations STIM and SKAP”. But on STIM:s webpage theres a pressrelease from a few days ago, where they support IPRED. The logic in this is quite strange.

The article
Stim:s press release

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Facts about Ipod

ipods1Just a short one: It would cost 2000 euro to fill an Ipod of 8 gigabytes. An average Ipod contains four percent legal music. Every song is copied illegally at least 20 times.

The Swedish Model has a great speech in the parliment:
http://theswedishmodel.org/about/anforande/

Gramtone releases P.A.N.

heritage_front_grammoshopThe debut album Heritage by P.A.N. is released on Gramtone. Behind the title is the musician Pär Näsbom, a Swede living in Switzerland where he works at a symphony orchestra. As a classic musician he started at the Norrland opera, andhas toured in Europe, USA and the orient. The violinist Pinchas Zukerman and the  pianist Christian Zacharias are some people he worked with. A violin concert by Alfred Felder were dedicated to Pär. As a folk musician he has toured USA and Europe for many years. With Anne Sofie von Otter he got an outlet for his pop skills. He also works as a studio musician.

Heritage is his first album. Here he mixes blues, country and folk, working entirely with his own material. “I have no certain inspirational sources except the musical heritage we all have who experienced the sixties and the seventies”, he says. The lyrics tries to reflect the human with her uncertainty, happiness, unhappiness, love and his favourite subject – people convinced of their own excellence. He used to write in Swedish but after 27 years abroad he thinks it’s hard to find the right nuances in the language. “It feels like the material is right and that I have to”.

The album is recorded in Skåne, Sweden, by another renowned musician, Bebe Risenfors. He has participated on Tom Waits and Elvis Costello albums. Bebe and Pär met in Paris where they played in the same band and came up with the idea to record this album from Pärs songs.

Gramtone is happy to work with such renowned musicians, where we can offer our unique form of distribution with cooperative ownership and a larger part of the cake to our musicians. P.A.N. is our third album.

IPRED opinions

A Swedish attempt to construct a law against file sharing is under intense debate. Copyright owners are supposed to get access to the file sharers/pirates IP-address to be able to sue. This is of course not very easy to plunge into. After a week of strange debates where artists exercise their voices to defend why they put their names under articles PRO-law and file sharers mail-bomb politicians, I have made an attempt to come up with my own opinion.

First, the IPRED idea is not very clever. It creates private criminal investigations, which is very threatening to my views of how society should work. The only ones able to use this law in an effective way are the large media companies and copyright organizations; the only ones who can afford to watch the web in any efficient way. They will have access to personal info about the file sharers, which I think is unpleasant. Since one weapon always is met with a countermeasure, this law will only construct more powerful anonymization tools, which will make this struggle harder.

However, the level of debate is sadly primitive. The loudest voices are heard from the people who thinks everything should be free all the time. I don’t really understand their arguments. Because creators – and I include the people working around the actual songwriter, actor or poet – need income to be able to create. The people who want to share files rarely have any serious ideas on how to solve this.

An intelligent argument is that the music business is not losing money just because there is a plunge in CD-sales. Musicians and music business people has started to transform the business to a more gig-driven business. But there is a backside to this. The price of tickets has raised massively the last couple of years. I pay double price on concert tickets today compared to a few years ago. This is not a healthy development, and with fairer sales on mechanical/digital music media, the concerts will be available for more people. Merchandize is another area where money can be made. But for many artists, its just cheap to sell t-shirts instead of their art.

People who want the law:
http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/artikel_2036521.svd
http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/artikel_2031775.svd

People who don’t want it:

A good summarize of the arguments:

http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1058&a=851463

I just read this article about professor Bo Rothstein who compared the blogosphere to sewer, where racial and sexistic insults are plenty. http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/artikel_2061129.svd

This seems sad to me. The politician Fredrik Federley tells in an article that he erased 1800 emails the other day. As a campaign method, this seems just stupid and not serious at all. A few sites offers mass-mailing opportunities, where a pre-written text is sent to politicians involved in the subject. Doesn’t the people against this law have their own opinions and the intellectual means to write personal letters? Who thinks that quantity wins over quality when it comes to arguments? The side who says the same thing most times wins? Here is an article:

http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/ipred/article3784782.ab

Internets simple contact possibilities, discussion forums and blogs are said to improve democracy. But when the tools are used to mail bomb politicians so they cant respond to serious letters, it is not at all improving democracy. Quite the opposite. When the discussions time after time degenerates to fighting without arguments, it is not democracy. Every single blogger and participant in discussion forums has a responsibility to be constructive when addressing others. It doesn’t help society to do it like this. And it doesn’t help the musicians, film makers, writers or artists who try to find ways to create and get food on the table.

About physical products

Physical products are needed in the music business. For a decade now, there has been a trend to aquire music via digital files, which are merely existing as zeros and ones on hard drives. At the same time another movement tries to cling to the old formats of CD:s and vinyl records. The debate has been hard regarding what will happen in the future and which type of delivering system that recorded music will use. Now, I have been thinking and debating for a while and here are some thoughts:

I am sure that musicians and listeners will always need the physical product. For several reasons: This past decade has proven that music without physical format is worthless: Noone wants to pay for it, it is collected like squirrels collect nuts for the winter. The inflation in musical value has been enormous. A decade ago there were actually “rare” music. It was hard to find, valuable, people found it attractive and worth the hunt. There was an interest from the audience to search for music. Today this seems strange. Music is hysterically available. Albums are sometimes downloadable even before their official release. The hunt for good music is limited to a couple of lazy clicks and there is no such thing as rare music anymore. A listener can possess a music library of millions of songs, but not really care or listen to the music. More like a prestigious mirror, or a kleptomanic need. This is not what the creators want. Not even the ones giving their music away for free, which is an increasing trend.

In musical marketing, there is no way what so ever for a manager, booker, artist or marketing firm to make an impression without a physical product. Anyone trying to work with music knows that an email, however ingenious it may be written, and a song in digital format to download, even if it’s the best song ever recorded, will go straight into the bin. Simply because a receiver doesn’t care, they want to be moved, to get a feeling, be impressed, get a present. Recently I listened to a lecture with an independent manager, trying to help four bands. He uses simple but beautiful packaging as his main strategy. Broken flying-V ukuleles, cigar boxes, strange parcels and creative ideas has made an impression with the receivers. It helps to remember the bands and the music it is meant to promote.

There is also a trend moving towards the old vinyl LP (for you younger ones, LP means Long Play, which points out that there’s room for about 40 minutes of music). I saw the new Calexico album on vinyl, a beautiful package, and with a sticker in the corner which read “With this album comes a voucher to download the MP3:s”. This is an excellent combination. A beautiful package with the mood and the attitude to amplify the music, and the daily usage of the music in digital format for the mobile phone or the computer. A vinyl album as the treasure, something to value and to care for. To pay for too of course.

And this is the main reason for physical packaging. A brand, a product, an artist, needs to be recognized. The graphics and the feel promotes an attitude and a mood. It helps to find the product in a shop or in the owners shelf. Just think about how you find the correct CD in your collection. You remember the thin and vague coloring on the back of the album. On the other hand a folder on your computer makes no impression at all. It comes down to alphabetical orders, which is the most unsexy way to get a feeling for your music.

Also, you cant give away virtual stuff as a present. Your best friends will be quite sad about an email with a playlist or some mp3:s. But a CD burned with ten great songs and a homemade cover is an excellent present. Simply because it comes with a feeling, some effort put into it and a physical weight and smell. Of course there are pros to digital products, and of course there are cons to physical products. You have heard them all. But I think there will be a movement back to some kind of physical product for musical publishing. I have started thinking about it myself, and will try to show you something in a while.


Gramtone

Gramtone är musikutgivare och bas för ett gäng musiker och låtskrivare, baserade i Norrköping. Vi äger bolaget och studion tillsammans, folk med olika bakgrund och olika smak. Två dussin är vi, som ställer allt vi äger i ett rum och säger: varsågoda. Ett kollektiv av individualister har vi kallats, och varför inte: Grammisar har vunnits, stipendier har fåtts, medan somliga är kända för helt andra saker. Alla spelar roll, men inte nödvändigtvis rock. En driver ett enmansprojekt, en annan är med i fem band samtidigt. Några är runt 20, några har fyllt 50. En fick pris för årets bästa museum. Någon ligger bakom Softubes banbrytande pluggar och någon har fått utmärkelse för, hör och häpna, bästa fotbollslåt.

Gramtone satsar på en liten, spännande utgivning av ostyrig, vacker musik. Lyssna där du vill, vi finns i alla de vedertagna kanalerna. Vissa spelar live, andra spelar in. Några älskar att skriva låtar, andra spelar gitarr så fingrarna blöder. Gramtone är en plattform som används av varje band och artist som det passar dem bäst. Ibland är vi en lekplats, ibland kreativt nav, affärsyta eller en trampolin för musikkarriärer. Vi blir planterade och uppodlade av varandra, och vi gillar't. Vi tycker att musik gör tillvaron större och vill man att något ska finnas, då ska man också skapa det. Tre dussin utgivningar hittills, och mycket på gång. Titta in, lyssna in, och häng med.