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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Veteran Rocker Discusses File-Sharing Phenomenon

David Lowery, the founder of the Camper van Beethoven band 30 years ago and co-founder of the Cracker in 1990, had replied on file-sharing in response to Emily White’s post. The latter argued in her essay that the 90’s generation is only looking forward to downloading and streaming music for free, while having no consideration into paying for the work of the performers.


Emily White admitted that she had only purchased 15 CDs in her lifetime, while her entire iTunes library exceeded 11,000 songs. However, she didn’t illegally download most of those songs. Although some of them, admittedly, were from a stint in the 5th grade with the file-sharing client Kazaa, the rest came from her family and friends, with whom she had swapped hundreds of mix CDs.

After having read her essay, David Lowery felt the impulse to respond. He told her that she seemed to have internalized that ripping 11,000 tracks in her iPod compared to her purchase of 15 CDs in her lifetime felt very disproportionate. According to Lowery, she also seemed to recognize that she wasn’t only ripping off the record labels, but directly ripping off the musicians whose music she didn’t buy but took for granted.

It didn’t even matter that White hadn’t taken those tracks from a file-sharing website. This might seem like a neat dodge, but Lowery would suggest to her that from the musician’s point of view, it’s quite irrelevant.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the median wage of the artist is $22.39 an hour, which totals to $43.000 on a full-time job. Nevertheless, there are too many factors which influence the income of a musician, particularly in that area. David insists that the typical musician signed up with a record label can earn about $35.000 annually in the United States.

When talking about legal services like Amazon, Spotify, or iTunes, an experimental band from Toulouse, called Uniform Motion, made its homework and discovered that Spotify would pay the band with 0.0038 cents per each song played. At the same time, iTunes and Amazon transfer them 30% of the sales, minus an annual fee.

David Lowery also said that they had been discussing putting together a kind of a guide to which technology and Internet companies were ethical towards musicians, and if they weren’t, explain how they unfairly exploit the content creators.

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