RHIAN JONES ON MUSICIANS, AUTHORS AND THE DIGITAL WORLD
also operate their own online cottage industries, selling recordings, gig tickets and merchandise directly to fans. Elsewhere online, middleman sites like Bandcamp, or PledgeMusic which helps artists and bands raise funding from fans for future releases, indicate the potential for intermediaries to mediate between artists and their audiences in a way that emphasises creativity and interaction rather than exploitation and profit extraction.
Today’s disingenuous debates on the evils of free filesharing parallel the reactionary blustering at the dawn of the cassette era, when, famously, home taping was held to be killing music. And yet record companies somehow struggled on, charging exorbitantly for CDs and picking up and dropping bands unable to generate fast enough revenue as they did so. The ability to pirate music has always been with us, but peer-to-peer trading of music through sites like Napster provided a technological and ideological structure which offered a genuine popular opposition to music’s domination by major labels. The big-money industry model which has held sway for the past fifty years has been a blip, not a fundamental cultural cornerstone without which all popular music will collapse into dust. The Digital Economy Act, meanwhile, is a ham-fisted attempt to prevent Britain’s creative industries advancing to their next evolutionary stage.
How different is this from the home life of our own dear industry? With e-books rapidly gaining in prominence and popularity, these are interesting times for the book world too. More significant than the rise of the e-book,
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