As the Rolling Stones began their tour while welching on the more than quarter of a million dollar deal they made with my Friend, I started this e-Blogazine journal to document some of my experience of the fallout, and to create a forum for discussion and resources to reform the Music Industry. May Artists, Musicians, and Free People everywhere find it useful.
Got Something to say? Are You a Musician, Artist, or Person with an opinion about the Music industry, music downloads, contracts or royalties? Are You concerned about the RIAA and other industries' assault on our cyber-Freedoms? Copyright and Intellectual Property law? Well?
Editors Note: This article has been placed in our articles section, here.
On Wednesday (8-14) morning Stoned Out Loud's publisher emailed John Perry Barlow, co-Founder and Vice Chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and author of "Napster.com and the Death of the Music Business", asking permission to reprint it as it appeared on Technocrat.net (Technocrat has temporarily left the room). He also asked for contributed columns. A couple of hours later, this came in. Stoned out Loud is proud to present You with this article. Thank You John. -g.moss
Slouching Towards Hollywood Creative Livelihood in an Economy of Verbs "By" John Perry Barlow
An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.- Victor Hugo
The great cultural war has broken out at last.
Long-awaited by some and a nasty surprise to others, the conflict between the Industrial Period and the Virtual Age is now engaged in earnest, thanks to the modestly conceived but paradigm-shattering thing called Napster.
What Napster's first realization of global peer-to-peer networking made inevitable is not so different from what happened when the American colonists realized that the conditions of their New World were sufficiently different from those of ancient England that they would be obliged to cast off the Crown before they could develop an economy natural to their environment. For the settlers of cyberspace, the "shot heard 'round the world" was fired on July 26 by Judge Marilyn Patel when she enjoined Napster and thereby sought to silence the cacophonous free market of expression already teeming with over 20 million directly-wired music lovers.
Despite the stay immediately granted the Napsterians, her decree transformed an evolving economy into a cause, and turned millions of politically apathetic youngsters into electronic Hezbollah. Neither the best efforts of Judge Patel - nor those of the Porsche-driving executives of the Recording Industry Association of America, the Congress they own, or the sleek legal defenders of existing copyright law - will alter this simple fact: No law can be successfully imposed on a huge population that does not morally support it, and possesses many easy means for its invisible evasion.
To put it mildly, the entertainment industry geriatrics didn't see it coming. They figured the Internet presented about as serious an obstacle to their infotainment empire as ham radio had to NBC. Even after that assumption was shattered, they remained serene as sunning crocodiles. After all, they still "owned" all that stuff they call "content." That it might soon become possible for anyone with a PC to effortlessly and perfectly reproduce their "property" and distribute it to all humanity troubled them little.
But then along came Napster. Or, more to the point, along came the real Internet, an instantaneous network that endows any acne-faced kid with a distributive range equal to Time-Warner's. Moreover, those were kids who don't give a flying byte about the existing legal battlements, and a lot of them possess decryption skills easily sufficient to crack whatever lame code the entertainment industry might wrap around "their" goods.
Practically every traditional pundit who's commented on the Napster case has at some point furrowed his telegenic brow and asked, "Is the genie out of the bottle?" A better question would be, "Is there a bottle?" No. There isn't.
Which is not to say the industry won't keep trying to create one. In addition to ludicrous (and probably unconstitutional) edicts like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the industry is placing a lot of faith in new cryptographic solutions. But before they waste a lot more time on their last algorithmic vessels, they might consider the ones they've designed so far. These include such systems as DivX, SDMI, and CSS - the DVD encryption standard, which has sparked its own legal hostilities on the Eastern Front, the New York court of Judge Lewis Kaplan.
Here's the present score: DivX was still-born, SDMI will never be born owing to the wrangling of its corporate parents, and DeCSS (the DVD decryptor) is spreading at a rate that will not slow even in the unlikely event that the Motion Picture Association of America prevails with its current lawsuits aimed at declaring it a prohibited form of speech. Outside Kaplan's Federal Court in New York City, where the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been defending three electronic distributors of DeCSS, nose-ringed kids sell T-shirts with its code silk-screened on them.
The last time technical copy protection was widely attempted - remember when most software was copy-protected? - it failed in the marketplace, and failed miserably. Earlier bans on reproductive technologies have also failed. Even though they are exceptionally slow learners, entertainment executives will eventually realize what they should have learned long ago: The free proliferation of expression does not decrease its commercial value. It increases it. It would serve them far better to encourage it.
The war is on, all right, but to my mind, it's over. The future will win. There will be no property in cyberspace. Behold DotCommunism. (And dig it, ye talented, since it will enrich you.) It's a pity that the entertainment industry is too wedged in the past to recognize this, as they will thereby require us to fight this war anyway. So we will all enrich lawyers with a fortune that could be spent fostering and distributing creativity. And we will be forced to watch a few pointless public executions - Shawn Fanning's cross awaits - when we could be employing such condemned genius in the service of a greater good.
As the inevitable unfolds, the real challenge arises: It's one thing to win a revolution and quite another to govern its consequences. How, in the absence of laws that turn thoughts into things, will we be assured payment for the work we do with our minds? Must the talented all start looking for day jobs?
Nope. Why should we? Most day jobs, at least in developed economies, already consist of mind work. The vast majority of us live by our wits now, producing "verbs" - that is, ideas - rather than such "nouns" as automobiles or toasters. Doctors, architects, executives, consultants, receptionists, televangelists, and, even, unfortunately, lawyers all manage to survive economically without "owning" their cognition.
I take further comfort in the fact that the human species managed to produce pretty decent creative work during the 5,000 years that preceded 1709, when John Locke pushed the Statute of Anne, the world's first copyright law, through the House of Lords.
Sophocles, Dante, Da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Newton, Cervantes, Bach - all found reasons to get out of bed in the morning without expecting to own the works they would create during the day ahead.
Even during the zenith of copyright, we got some pretty useful stuff out of Benoit Mandelbrot, Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Marc Andresson, and Linus Torvalds, none of whom did their world-morphing work with royalties in mind. And then there are all those great musicians of the last 50 years who went on making music even after they discovered that the record companies got to keep all the money.
Nor can I resist trotting out, one last time, the horse I rode back in 1994, when I explored these issues in a Wired article called "The Economy of Ideas," The Grateful Dead. The Dead, for whom I once wrote songs, learned by accident that if we let fans tape our concerts and freely reproduce those tapes - "stealing" our intellectual "property" just like those heinous Napsterites - the tapes would become a marketing virus that would spawn enough Deadheads to fill any stadium in America. Even though Deadheads had free recordings that were better than our commercial albums, fans still went out and bought records in such quantity that most of them eventually went platinum.
My opponents always dismiss this example as a special case. But it's not. Here are a couple of others closer to Hollywood. Jack Valenti, head of the MPAA and leader of the fight against DeCSS, kept VCRs out America for 5 years, convinced they would kill the film industry. Eventually the wall came down. What followed reversed his expectations (not that he seems to have learned from the experience).
Despite the ubiquity of VCRs, more people go to the movies than ever and videocassette rentals and sales account for nearly 70 percent of his industry's income.
The RIAA is unalterably convinced that toe easy availability of freely downloadable commercial songs will bring on the apocalypse, and yet, during the two years since MP3 music began flooding the Net, CD sales have risen by 20 percent.
Finally, after giving up on copy protection, the software industry expected that widespread piracy would surely occur. And it did. I often ask audiences how many of them can honestly say they have no unauthorized software on their hard drives. Most people don't raise their hands. And yet, the software industry is booming. Why? Because the more a program is pirated, the more likely it is to become a standard. Once it becomes a standard, it is a great deal more convenient to enter into a long-term service relationship with the vendor.
All these examples point to the same conclusion: non-commercial distribution of information increases the sale of commercial information. Abundance breeds abundance.
This is precisely contrary to what happens in a physical economy. When you're selling nouns, there is an undeniable relationship between scarcity and value. Adam Smith figured that out a long time ago. But in an economy of verbs, the inverse applies. There is a relationship between familiarity and value. For ideas, fame is fortune. And nothing makes you famous faster than an audience willing to distribute your work for free.
All the same, there remains a general and passionate belief that, in the absence of copyright, artists and other creative people will no longer be compensated. I'm forever accused of being an anti-materialistic hippie who thinks we should all be create for the Greater Good of Mankind and lead lives of ascetic service. If only I were so noble. While I do believe that most genuine artists are primarily motivated by the joys of creation, I also believe we will be more productive if we don't have to work a second job to support our art habit. Think of how many more poems Wallace Stevens could have written if he hadn't been forced to run an insurance company to support his "hobby."
Following the death of copyright, I believe our interests will be assured instead by the following practical values: relationship, convenience, interactivity, service, and ethics.
Before I go further in explaining what I mean, let me state a creed: Art is a service, not a product. Created beauty is a relationship, and a relationship with the Holy at that. To reduce such work to "content" is like praying in swear words. End of sermon. Back to business.
The economic model that supported most of the ancient masters I named above (and thousands more like them) was patronage, whether endowed by a wealthy individual, a religious institution, a university, a corporation, or, by the instrument of governmental support, society as a whole.
Patronage is both a relationship and a service. It is a relationship that supported genius during the Renaissance and supports it today.
Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Botticelli all shared the support of both the Medicis and, through Pope Leo X, the Catholic Church. Bach had a series of patrons, most notably the Duke of Weimar. Dante served as a politician and diplomat for the Church and a variety of Tuscan aristocrats. I could go on, but I can already hear you saying, "Surely this fool doesn't expect the return of patronage."
But patronage never went away. It just changed its appearance. Marc Andresson was a beneficiary of the "patronage" of the National Center for Supercomputer Applications when he created Mosaic; CERN was a patron to Tim Berners-Lee while he created the World Wide Web. DARPA was Vint Cerf's benefactor; IBM was Mandelbrot's.
"Aha!" you say, "but IBM is a corporation. They profited from the intellectual property Mandelbrot created." Maybe, but so did the rest of us. While IBM would patent air and water if it could, I don't believe it ever attempted to file a patent on fractal geometry.
Relationship, along with service, is at the heart of what supports all sorts of other modern, though more anonymous, "knowledge workers." Doctors are economically protected by a relationship with their patients, architects with their clients, executives with their corporations. Even copyright lawyers wouldn't find it advantageous to copyright their briefs, since they rip one another off so flagrantly. Copy and paste is second only to paranoia in being is the best thing that ever happened to the legal profession.
In general, if you substitute "relationship" for "property," you begin to understand why a digitized information economy can work fine in the absence of enforceable property law. Cyberspace is unreal estate. Relationships are its geology.
Convenience is another important factor in the future compensation of creation. The reason that video didn't kill the movie star is that it's simply more convenient to rent a video than to copy one. Software is easy to copy, of course, but software piracy hasn't impoverished Bill Gates, because in the long run it's more convenient to enter into a relationship with Microsoft if you want to use their products. It's certainly more convenient to get technical support if you have a real serial number when you finally get the support person on the phone. And that serial number is not a thing. It's a contract. It is the symbol of a relationship.
Think of how the emerging digital conveniences will empower musicians, photographers, filmmakers, and writers when you can click on an icon, upload a cyber-dime into their accounts, and download their latest songs, images, films, or chapters, all without the barbaric inconvenience currently imposed by the entertainment industry.
Interactivity is also central to the future of creation. Performance is a form of interaction. The reason Deadheads went to concerts instead of just listening to free tapes was that they wanted to interact with the band in Meatspace. The more people knew what our concerts sounded like, the more people wanted to experience them.
I enjoy a similar benefit in my current incarnation. I'm reasonably well-paid to write, despite the fact that I put most of my work on the Net before it can be printed, but I'm paid a lot more to speak, and more still to consult, since my real value lies in something that can't be stolen from me - my point of view. A unique and passionate viewpoint is more valuable in a conversation than the one-way broadcast of words. And the more my words self-replicate on the Net, the more I can charge for symmetrical interaction.
Finally, there is the role of ethics. (I can hear you snickering already.) But hey, people actually do feel inclined to reward creative value if it's not too inconvenient. As Courtney Love said recently in a brilliant blast at the music industry: "I'm a waitress. I work for tips." She's right. People want to pay her because they like her work. Indeed, actual waitpeople get by even though the people they serve are under no legal obligation to tip them. They tip them because it's the right thing to do.
I believe that, in the practical absence of law, ethics are going to make a major comeback in cyberspace. In an environment of dense connection where much of what we do and say is recorded, preserved, and easily discovered, ethical behavior becomes less a matter of self-imposed virtue and more a matter of horizontal social enforcement. (Think of how much better you tip when everyone at the table can watch you total the credit card slip.)
Besides, the more connected we become, the more obvious it is that we're all in this thing together. If I don't pay for the light of your creation, it goes out and the place gets dimmer. If no one pays, we're all in the dark. In cyberspace, it becomes increasingly obvious that what goes around comes around. What has been an ideal become a sensible business practice.
Think of cyberspace as an ecosystem, because it is one. It is a great rain forest of those life forms called ideas, which, like organisms - those patterns of self-reproducing, evolving, adaptive information that express themselves in skeins of carbon - require one another to exist. Imagine the challenge of trying to write a song if you'd never heard one.
As in biology, what has lived before becomes the compost from which new shoots spring forth. Moreover, when you buy - or, for that matter, "steal" - an idea that first took form in my head, it remains where it grew and you in no way lessen its value by sharing it. On the contrary, mine becomes more valuable, since in the informational space between your interpretation of it and mine, new species can grow. The more such spaces exist, the more fertile is the greater ecology of mind.
I can also imagine the great electronic nervous system producing entirely new models of creative worth where value resides not in the artifact, which is static and dead, but in the real art - the living process that bore it. I would have given a lot to be present as, say, the Beatles grew their songs. I'd have paid even more to have actually participated in some small way. Part of the reason Deadheads were so obsessed with live concerts was that they did participate in some weird, mysterious way. They were allowed the intimacy of seeing the larval beginnings of a song flop out onstage, wet and ugly, and they would help nurture its growth.
Instead of bottles of dead "content," I imagine electronically defined zones of creative interactions, where minds residing in bodies scattered all over the planet are admitted, either by subscription or a ticket at a time, into the real-time presence of the verb I call art.
For example, I imagine actual storytelling making a comeback. Storytelling, unlike the one-way, asymmetrical thing that goes by that name in Hollywood, is highly participatory. Instead further hypnotizing the passive TV viewer, awash in electrons and Budweiser, I imagine new audiences happily paying for engagement with the bard.
This scenario doesn't require much imagination, since it's what happens in the presence good public speaker now. The best of them don't talk at the audience, but rather converse with them, creating a sanctuary of permission where something real and personal can happen.
People will also pay to get first crack at the fresh stuff, just as Stephen King is proving by serializing novels on the Web. Dickens demonstrated the efficiency of this system long ago. Unruly dockside mobs greeted the ship bearing the last chapter of Great Expectations. They paid considerable premiums for copies of the magazine in which it was being serialized. Though Dickens was irritated that the Americans ignored his British copyright, he adapted and devised a way to get paid anyway. The artists and writers of the future will adapt to practical possibility. Many already have done so. They are, after all, creative people.
Best of all, think of how much more money there will be for the truly creative when the truly cynical have been dealt out of the game. Once we have all given up regarding our ideas as a form of property, the entertainment industry will no longer have anything to steal from us. Meet the new boss: no boss.
But enough about the money. I could go on at far greater length about economic models, both demonstrated and speculative, but the fact remains, we don't know jack about what's eventually going to work in the new ecosystem we're growing. If one compares the evolution of Industry to the information economy now slouching through cyberspace to be born, we are metaphorically closer to the era of Eli Whitney than Henry Ford's. This would be a lousy time to lock in our future by imposing on it a set of legal, commercial, and aesthetic principles that were merely the best our ancestors could do with the tools they had.
The fact that those principles might artificially extend the longevity of some institutions and people who have shamelessly fed on the creative for over a century does not trouble me. They wouldn't deserve to survive even if they still had practical value.
We've won the revolution. It's all over but the litigation. While that drags on, let us think about our real mission: ancestry. We have a profound responsibility to employ the tools freshly available to us to be better ancestors. With technology, we are building the foundations of a social architecture that may endure a very long time. What we do now will likely determine the productivity and freedom of artists 20 generations yet un-born. What we do now will determine whether the great works of the last century rot embedded in the corpses of the their former distributors, forever lost to our descendents.
Let us digitize every work of mind we love and endow it with permanent virtual life, whatever the tightening noose of law may dictate.
Let us not sacrifice a free future to preserve a little longer the slavery of the past.
-- John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident Co-Founder & Vice Chairman, Electronic Frontier Foundation Berkman Fellow, Harvard Law School
Here's a bit of Irony for You. In today's Time "Person of the Week" column, appearing in the new newsticker at the left, just below the Main Item in the "Verbatim" section in Time's piece, is Keith Richard's controversial remark made earlier this week.
"It's a paltry honor. He's joining the brownnoses. I said, 'Hold out for the lordship, mate.'" KEITH RICHARDS, guitarist for the Rolling Stones, commenting on bandmate Mick Jagger's recent knighthood
This weeks Person of the Week is Chen Shui-bian, the Democracy-oriented President of Taiwan. Time's lead goes:
By urging a referendum on a declaration of independence from China, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian earned a week of sound bites and fury from an agitated Beijing bent on reunification. So where's the irony? What's the last gig booked for the Stones on this 2002-2003 Tour? Well, on the "Official" ticket sales site for the band, with the big E-Trade sponsors and all, it says their last date is Saturday 2-01-03 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
You know, the Rolling Stones have been rumored to be spending a billion dollars on this tour. It's a pity they can't or won't afford to pay my Friend what they promised, which would represent maybe one quarter of one percent (that's 0.25 %) of their expenses for the entire 2 year duration of her contract.
Yesterday and last night was a turbulent day with Delene and Mike. He called last night late and whined at her over non performance about deliverables, while she grew increasingly impatient with his excuses about why she could not be paid, nor be allowed to have the tools or information to accomplish what he seems to be demanding.
I'm under the impression that Mike Decaro truly believes and is pretending to himself that he can get away with not paying her up to date on her quarter of a million dollar (plus) contract. He really needs to get a clue about nonperformance himself, in my own judicious opinion. (heheh. my email is email@example.com).
Finally Delene did lose all patience and became totally unwilling to waste time any further on this idiot. She told him "When You decide to get serious, call me." With that she slammed down the phone and we both got back to work on our respective projects. Mick did try to call back twice after that. She answered the first time, and hung up on him (he was ranting, arrogant and abusive - "How Dare You Hang up on me!" - rather than the whine-ass. aside-he often oscillates back and forth between these poses. But Delene stood her ground. Sorry "Mick". No Mon, No Fun.
He had tried every gambit and excuse, and she called him on each and every one. It was beautiful to see.
Later, this afternoon, he called back in a more reasonable tone. He still whined about lots of water under the bridge, but did manage to be lucid enough to reach some sort of rapproachment with Delene. Result? I got kicked off the computer while she finished up the site.
Holy Shit. I was impressed. She went out to moreover and made a custom newsfeed to search for Rolling Stones Tour related stories, and installed a news page. She had a couple of questions about javascipt and pop-up windows, but overall she figured it out herself and got it finished. Then tripod's ftp server went down shortly after midnight, and she couldn't complete the file transfers.
I'm proud of her. Check it out here. I like the newspage with the pop-up windows. But that's just javascipt, a relatively simple call. The real value-add she gave Decaro and the Stones there is the customised news feed that goes out and searches for Stones-related stuff. It's handy. (editor's note: Delene let Dave, our Publisher tweak it out a little more, and that more targeted version - under our account, not hers - is what You see here at the left.)
Now if she can only start to get paid up to date. Ah, well either she will or she won't...there's always the road of litigation, liens, auctions, etc. in a Country of Laws. Let us hope it doesn't come to that.
In the meantime I was busy with getting newsfeeds for Stoned Out Loud (we all were). Dave got some too, and attended to getting set up on our new servers at Cornerhost.com and backing them up. There's going to be a few changes around here. We're growing fast, so don't be surprised by the new look in the next few hours and days. We all hope You like it.
As of sometime this evening EST, Stoned Out Loud has gone live on a commercially hosted server! We are hosting with Michal Wallace's most excellent Cornerhost.com, and can now be accessed (for the moment) free of ad banners. So now, in addition to stoned-out.blogspot.com and stoned-out-loud.tripod.com, You can reach us at
"Unless You are a contractor for the Rolling Stones..." Links and Late Night Calls
For those who didn't visit the site linked from the words "Unless You are a contractor for the Rolling Stones," at the bottom of False Hopes and Bad PIN Numbers, here is what You would have found there (from google groups, a usenet posting to alt.rock-n-roll.stones he made on December 14, 1999, responding to someone's report of a stone's memorabilia trader who allegedly ripped people off. I have redacted the trader's name, as I don't want to get sued, but You can view it in the discussion Yourself if You go to google. Usenet postings are Public utterances.):
I have worked for the band for over 20+ years and have one of the largest and widest variety of collections in the world and never did anyone wrong your reputation is something actually the only thing you can take to your grave and be proud of hang the sonofabitch taking hard working peoples money that they think are going to get a certain item cause they enjoy the stones and there music and it makes them happy and some little shithead comes along and rips people off! I swear I see when he is home Keith 1-2 times a week sometimes and he does not care about bootlegs but I swear give me this guys address and he will meet Keith in the worst way and his dreams will be crushed when his mentor calls him a fucking slug and say's YOU ARE A A HOLE that will stay with him forever and then see if it was worth whatever amount of $$ he stole from people right!! Mike DeCaro ----end google archive usenet posting -----
Mike called again last night/this morning around 12:07am.
First he bitched at her at the unfairness of it all. Then moved on to explain how this tour's ticket sales work...how (somebody named) Cole or Koll put up a site that sold for a $90 fee, tickets to the tour shows...and how they were nosebleed seats (he actually sang the alphabet song to her over the phone and stopped at "Q". ! ) that everybody is complaining about in Sticky Fingers Journal, and how the Stones are "slowly" trying to undo it. How somebody named Michael Koll was selling tickets on the web for what sounded like a $90 surcharge (to hear him tell it). But that the stuff he, Mike Decaro, was peddling was the real deal. That he wasn't the type to deceive People and rip them off or jerk them around, and that the Stones were "slowly fixing it" (the nosebleed seat sales from this guy).
I just gotta say: What the hell does "slowly fixing it" mean? If I get lousy service in a grocery store or department store, does that mean I'm being "slowly" satisfied? Or do I get "slowly" pissed and then "slowly" complain?
The Stones are slowly fixing things alright. When a contractor "slowly" gets paid - like this? like Delene Garafano? - they "slowly" starve, and very quickly go broke, supporting Keith Richard's pet, Mike Decaro. This kind of slow pay is actually a eupemism for no pay.
"I don't care either way."
Then "Mick" moved on to discuss Delene's failure to work for free. (Remember, the original deal he struck with her, on behalf of The Rolling Stones organisation, was for her time, and not any particular deliverables other than her time.)
Decaro allowed as to how Delene had kept bringing up the issue of money, and speculated on whether or not she ever would be like it was his decision to make. He stated flatly: "I'm not going to care either way. It's like Your a secretary who takes the job and then wants to get paid for only typing 10 words a minute."
He went on to say he couldn't understand why she keeps asking to be paid when (he contends) she hasn't done anything. Delene said nothing for a while while he ranted on, restating his point repeatedly as is his custom, bludgeoning her with vituperation. At one point she got really pissed and in reponse to Decaro's "Why should You want to get paid? ", she blurted "Because I'm running out of money!"
Mike Decaro has not a single idea of what things cost for People who live honestly and work, rather than trading in favors, in my opinion. Delene has probably spent 3 or 4 thousand dollars on gas and cigarettes and mileage and car insurance and wear and tear on her car since March, catering to the madly careening personality and appetites for mental abuse practiced by Mike "mick" Decaro. Not to mention meals she has bought him. Not to mention wear and tear on her nerves.
Not to mention a lot of things.
They finally finished their conversation around 1:57 am. Mike spent the last half hour giving Delene unsolicited advice on how to kick me out of her house. Her comment to me afterward? "Who said I wanted to?"
The bulk of the rest of the conversation was Mike remonstrating with her on how the newsletter isn't getting done, but when she asked for a copy, he didn't have any, couldn't access a copy, and refused to provide her with the material necessary to do it.
His pattern is to make excuses such that the bottom line is: HE is left in sole control of the information and will not share it...then he bitches at her interminably about her "not doing her job." This is his method of control. It's a control-freak thing, combined with other con techniques.