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TMBG on DRM 473

scootr1 writes "John and John from They Might Be Giants speak to Newsweek about, amongst other things, digital rights management. My favorite exchange? 'How would you eat, then?' 'That's my problem.' When are record companies going to realize that DRM isn't going to help them sell more of the bad music that dominates the airwaves?"
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  • Experimental Film (Score:5, Informative)

    by daeley ( 126313 ) * on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:28PM (#9719332) Homepage
    In related news, the gang over at Homestar Runner recently did a video [] for TMBG's song "Experimental Film." Lots of fun movie references.
    • Bad music? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rd_syringe ( 793064 )
      Why is music bad if he doesn't like it?

      I know lots more people who do like today's music. People claim bad music is the reason for increased piracy, which doesn't make sense. Why are people pirating music they don't like?
      • by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:40PM (#9719470) Homepage
        I'm sorry, but have you listened to some of the crap that is getting a lot of airplay? I mean, a week ago, one of the record stations played the first single off of some blonde pop-tart's new album, and it was a cover song. (What does it say about the rest of the album if the first single pushed is a cover? To me it says the rest of the album reaks.)

        Quite frankly, after hearing Hoobastank's "The Reason" for the 157th time in a week, I am tired of hearing it. Or any of the other "we must play this song every couple of hours" hits.

        And if there's one good song on an album, and the rest of it sucks liquid monkey ass through a straw, then there is damn little reason to buy the entire CD. And unless that one good song is available through iTunes or any of the other legitimate music download services, I don't honestly expect most people to pony up $17-$20 for one song.

        Just because he hates it doesn't mean it's bad music. But it doesn't make it good music either.

        • I'm sorry, but have you listened to some of the crap that is getting a lot of airplay?

          Again, you need to step out of your own perspective. Why is it crap just because you don't like it? I guarantee a lot more people do.
          • Re:Bad music? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Ralph Yarro ( 704772 )
            Again, you need to step out of your own perspective.

            Maybe you need to step into his perspective, then you can both call it crap. Why should he be the one to change if you're the one who finds the existence of differing opinions so painful?

            Why is it crap just because you don't like it?

            Because that is what it means for something to be "crap", that I don't like it. Are you suggesting that people should refrain from ever expressing judgments? Or is it only ones that you disagree with that are the problem
          • by Anonymous Coward
            Random passerby: "What a beautiful day"

            rd syrings: "Why is it beautiful just because you like it? Huh? Huh? You looking for a fight?"
          • Re:Bad music? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:21PM (#9720109) Journal
            Speaking for myself: It's not crap just because I hate it. I hate it because it's crap. Slight difference.

            It's crap because it's all the same. Unless you have heard the song before, or are a fan of the artist, it is virtually impossible to tell who the artist IS. Truly distinctive sounds are few and far between, and original sounds are rarer still. All the music industry seems to be concerned with today is manufacturing an image so they can sell shoes and soft drinks, not promoting creative music.

            The end result is that on all but the rare occasion, what gets palyed on the radio is trite.
            • Do you not get it? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by rd_syringe ( 793064 )
              Speaking for myself: It's not crap just because I hate it. I hate it because it's crap.

              Did you know Rolling Stone said the same thing about every Led Zeppelin album released? You're going on the assumption that your OPINION is suddenly a fact that everyone else must go by.

              You may think it's crap. That has absolutely no bearing on what everyone else thinks of it (hint: most of the public likes today's music). I know the popular bands around here are either garage electronic acts or really old bands l
              • I am assuming no such thing.

                Speaking for myself: This is my opinion and I do not speak for anyone else because I understand other people may feel differently.

                It's not crap just because I hate it: I do not like most modern music. (The "most" part I explicitly stated later in my post, so don't even go there.) However I recognize that this is my opinion and that does not automatically make it universally the worst music ever.

                I then go on to explain the reasons why I feel it's crap.

                To turn your own argume
      • Re:Bad music? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AllUsernamesAreGone ( 688381 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:42PM (#9719502)
        Economics. They don't believe that the quality of the music justifies the price the labels demand for it so they use a supply mechanism that provides the music at the price they believe the music deserves.

        How many times have you or your friends waited for an averageish game to drop to bargain bin prices and then bought it because you didn't want to pay the initial retail price? Same idea.

        If the music lables produced things people really, really wanted and they have high enough perceived value to justify the price then they would sell more, but in the absence of this and in the presence of cheaper supply mechanisms they aren't going to get anywhere.
        • by geoffspear ( 692508 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:16PM (#9720030) Homepage
          Wow, if your economic theories are correct, people should start leaving the keys in the Porsches with the doors unlocked and installing really good security systems in the crappy cars that no one would want. I mean, someone's likely to steal my beat up piece of crap car that's not worth the couple of thousand dollars they'd have to pay to get their own, but they'd never steal a good quality sports car.
      • Re:Bad music? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by GTRacer ( 234395 ) <gtracer308@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:44PM (#9719538) Homepage Journal
        I was just talking with a colleague about this... I mentioned that people pirate because bad music dominates the airwaves. How is someone supposed to know if they're gonna like a CD if it's never played? Our top-40 station plays a short rotation that I bet I could get on a dozen or so CDs. What about the 200 other discs at BestBuy?

        Radio used to be great for artist exposure. Well, it still is, for sufficient values of $artist as determined by the RIAA...

        - Needs an in-car MP3 changer BAD!

        • Re:Bad music? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by NanoGator ( 522640 )
          "I was just talking with a colleague about this... I mentioned that people pirate because bad music dominates the airwaves. How is someone supposed to know if they're gonna like a CD if it's never played? Our top-40 station plays a short rotation that I bet I could get on a dozen or so CDs. What about the 200 other discs at BestBuy?"

          I'd be far more sympathetic with the RIAA if the return of music was opened up to 'satisfaction guaranteed'. One big reason why anybody'd download music instead of buying it
      • It's just a badly placed end quote. I thought he said that the music was bad as well, but it was the submitter that said it, not Flansburgh.

        I thought so too, but I went back and double checked the article. (See, it pays to RTFA.)
      • Stealing bad music? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by WoodstockJeff ( 568111 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:02PM (#9719810) Homepage
        While I'm against downloading music, I can see why some people do it... Lack of perceived value of "albums". They're not stealing the bad music, just the stuff they want.

        My solution to only liking one or two songs on an album is to set my price point for buying it lower... I won't buy it at full price. Others just download the song(s) they want. I have one song in my MP3 collection that didn't come from a CD I own - it was encoded from an HBO concert, because I didn't want to spend $18 for the two-CD set the song is found on, which was full of, well, CRAP.

        Even the artists themselves are realizing that they've been selling albums that consist of one or two songs, plus filler. This information was gleaned from the recent Frontline show, "How the Music Died".

      • Not "bad" music (Score:4, Insightful)

        by phorm ( 591458 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:07PM (#9719917) Journal
        Some music is just bad,as in you couldn't pay me or most others to purchase it.

        Some music just isn't good, or not good enough, to warrant the price it is set at. So really, the issue really a relation of quality vs cost. A really good CD might warrant purchase at a higher cost. An average CD might not warrant purchase until cost has declined.

        Oh, and we're not really claiming piracy as the sole cause by any stretch, as many people wouldn't even pirate music that's really bad, and many others (such as myself) just don't pirate but rather wait for an item to end up in the "Used CD" rack.
      • Re:Bad music? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by R2.0 ( 532027 )
        "People claim bad music is the reason for increased piracy"

        No, that is not correct.

        The record industry claims that "increased piracy" i.e. filesharing, is causing the record industry to lose money through lost sales.

        In response, people claim that the record industry is losing money because lost sales due to poor product, i.e. "bad music", and that the RIAA's current argument is a red herring.

        There are a great many people who, although they agrre that filesharing is a copyright violation, don't believe t
    • in related news, people care about what TMBG has to say.
  • Thanks TMBG! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:28PM (#9719334)
    I just saw TMBG last weekend. Great show. I thought I had kept up with their more recent work, but I was obviously wrong. I only recognized several of the songs that they played. I was actually embarrassed to have mentioned to a friend that told me of the show that I was a "fan".

    The show was great. Even the songs I didn't recognize were great. My only complaint was that they were a bit loud and my left ear is still ringing seven days later).

    I support TMBG like I would any other band that supports the freedom of music. They allow their live shows to be traded freely (according to FurthurNET) and I was happy to purchase two tickets to see them and help them.

    They were a lot of fun and I really love their comment in the NewsWeek article:

    Record companies are certainly scared.
    They should be scared. They're hemorrhaging dough.

    Damn straight they are. I have said it 1,000 times here before. While the music companies complain about them losing money they are losing it because they sponsor shit music and treat their customers like shit. At least there are bands, who support freedom of music, that care about their fans/customers. While it might not mean much to TMBG they just made their percentage of the $30 ticket prices I shelled out for them and I was thrilled to do it.

    Perhaps we need more bands that love their fans to speak out against the RIAA. Maybe then other bands will see how you can survive for 20+ years by caring for your fans and them caring for you back. I'm pretty certain the RIAA doesn't think about THAT when they come up with contract terms for their cookie cutter noise machines.
    • Re:Thanks TMBG! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DarkSarin ( 651985 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:44PM (#9719525) Homepage Journal
      The RIAA, unfortunately, doesn't care about individual bands. It only cares about the recording studios. Why? Because is was formed by, and is controlled by, the studios. From their perspective it makes sense to push DRM and the latest craze (a la Brittney Spears), because this is what makes them the most money.

      They are not, like some have supposed, in it for the long haul as far as any one band is concerned. Older bands do not make as much money off albums as do newer bands (generally speaking), because they can't tap into the market that spends the most--teenage kids.

      The teenage kids buy more cds, go to more concerts, and purchase more paraphenalia than other demographics. This is because they aren't generally paying any bills, and are rarely saving money (if they even have a job--many recieve an "allowance", which just makes folks lazy).

      Thus, from the marketeers perspective, it makes sense to engender one craze after another, because these are what make money. Granted, they will squeeze every penny they can from every artist they can, but the big money isn't there for bands like TMBG.

      That said, I do agree that in the long run, bands that care about their fans, and that care about making music, are the ones that I generally enjoy listening to more.

      Think about the difference in attitude illustrated by, "I want to be a rock star", compared to, "I want to play music". The one is focused on being rich, famous, and having lots of neat toys. The other focuses on playing great music, and if the other (money, fame, etc) comes to them, great.

      Brittney Spears is not around for the long haul because she doesn't care about the music the same way that TMBG.

      FWIW, I love their music, but am far from up to date on their latest stuff.
    • My only complaint was that they were a bit loud

      If it's too loud, you're too old. ;-)
    • Re:Thanks TMBG! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by proxima ( 165692 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:16PM (#9720032)
      I just saw TMBG last weekend. Great show. I thought I had kept up with their more recent work, but I was obviously wrong. I only recognized several of the songs that they played. I was actually embarrassed to have mentioned to a friend that told me of the show that I was a "fan".

      I felt the same way when I saw them very recently, but they were promoting songs from their new album which just game out Tuesday this week. Don't feel too bad, I suspect most people in the audience didn't know more than half of the songs they played.

      I have to say, though, having mostly listened to "Flood" and other CDs of that era from them, that their concert was significantly louder and more "rockish" than I had expected. Apparently they are typically like that in concert, and their new album reflects that tendancy.

      On the other hand, they played "Older", which has to be one of the strangest songs I've ever liked. They (well, John Linnell at least) looked pretty bored playing "Birdhouse in your Soul" and "Particle Man". I guess you can't fault them for getting sick of the same couple songs over 14 years.

      As a final note, I thought their ticket prices (we paid something along the lines of $20-25, don't remember), T-shirt prices, etc. were all very reasonable. You get a sense that they were really excited to be releasing a new CD and enjoyed playing new music.

    • A story, if I may... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @04:06PM (#9720818) Journal
      ..about the greatest man I ever knew - Lawrence Hess. You probably never heard of him, but that's not unusual - there's a lot of musicians you've never heard of. The difference here, is that Lawrence was the single most talented one I've ever, and probably will ever meet (and I've known many). Not too many musicians have the distinction of being in The Boxtops, or Ripley's Believe it or Not - he was.

      What does this have to do with DRM/Music Labels? I'm getting there.

      Back when I was an aspiring musician I was introduced to Lawrence and invited to one of his shows. He was a always-smiling, one man band. Lawrence embraced any technology related to music and getting the sound he wanted. He'd sit, surrounded by 4 or 5 keyboards with a little Steinberger guitar slung over his shoulder. Having played in bands for years, he decided that he could be his own band - one that wouldn't make mistakes, one that would always show up on time and not be intoxicated.

      Every bit of his music was sequenced by him - and he used his own bizzare midi settings (I think as to confuse anyone who might try and steal a few of his backup discs). His voice was one of those given to you by God himself - an impossible, deep range.

      But he was unlucky in a few other areas. You see, Lawrence wasn't much to look at - physically. He stood no more than 5'2", and always managed to look somewhat disheveled. He also had Type I diabetes - had it since childhood. It eventually killed him at 35 years in 1998.

      In short, Lawrence was hardly MTV material - he simply didn't look the part. But... He was a musician's musician - a master. He had a great local following and he managed to meek out a decent existance right up until weeks before he passed away.

      Now, here's the point to all of this. Lawrence didn't bitch that he wasn't a star. Sure, he would've liked more exposure, but he did what he did because it was all he knew how to do. Being a musician doesn't mean you have to starve, but certainly aren't any guarantees. If you suck, you suck, and no amount of promotion by a label is going to change that fact. If you want to eat, you have to prove yourself to people.

      Lawrence's fans would travel from miles away to see him perform. He always kept the venues and customers happy wherever he played. He didn't expect the RIAA or anyone else to bail him out - he did it for the sheer love of music.

      What I personally took away from his death was that although I enjoyed playing and singing immensely, I could in no way live the life he had chosen. I simply wasn't that good (well, few are!) and so I stayed in the computer field where I think I've done fairly well for myself.

      I guess I just get a little pissed off when I hear about DRM and/or musicians spouting off about piracy - especially when it's world famous musicians who should have the least to complain/worry about.

    • Re:Thanks TMBG! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by galaxy300 ( 111408 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `yenoornotlad'> on Friday July 16, 2004 @04:31PM (#9721162) Homepage
      "My only complaint was that they were a bit loud and my left ear is still ringing seven days later)."

      Word to the wise - after years and years of attending loud concerts, I and many of my friends are developing tinnitus. Think of experiencing the persistent ringing in your ears all the time.

      It's not that you're getting's that concerts are ridiculously (or is that rediculously?) loud and it's a great idea to wear earplugs to protect your hearing from long term damage.

      And you might look like a dork, but just think about that guy from Mission of Burma who has to wear OSHA approved ear mufflers whenever he plays. You don't want to grow up to be like him.
    • Re:Thanks TMBG! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BrianB ( 7440 )
      i saw them about two years ago touring with a *gasp* real band. Quite a change from when I saw them on tour after they put out Flood with just John and John.

      Anyway, the really neat thing was they pulled out a radio and started running through the dial. It was the real deal, you could hear all the crappy local stations. When they came across a song, the band picked up and started playing it. It was very amusing, but also, it showed some real musicianship to be able to do that.

      That's what's missing from
  • Eat food? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:29PM (#9719349)
    For those that found the extra interesting exchange "'How would you eat, then?' 'That's my problem.'" to be less than clear, here's a little more context:

    How would you eat, then?
    That's my problem. Being a musician is an unreasonable idea anyway. The life expectancy of a professional career in music is five or 10 years. That would be a long run.

    More interesting really:
    Record companies are certainly scared.
    They should be scared. They're hemorrhaging dough.

    Best thing about TMBG? They're huge fans [].
    We live in a split world--people who know about Homestar and people who don't... Now we have this "Experimental Film" video out. It's a video directed by [the Homestar character] Strong Sad.

    Worst thing?
    They're working with Oh well, they might be giants, but I guess that doesn't mean they're perfect.
    • Re:Eat food? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rei ( 128717 )
      What's wrong with
  • Bad music? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IAmTheDave ( 746256 ) * <> on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:30PM (#9719355) Homepage Journal
    When are record companies going to realize that DRM isn't going to help them sell more of the bad music that dominates the airwaves?

    Bad music? How about DRM isn't going to help sell more of ANY music. At all. Ever. The less you give, the less you empower your customers, the less they trust you, the less you make.
    • FYI (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:09PM (#9719939) Homepage
      itunes is DRM-ed. And it's sold 100 million tunes.

      DRM, if kept to a minimum, isn't so bad - it merely prevents people from filesharing the music they just bought. The fact that RIAA is evil doesn't justify IP theft (which filesharing pretty much is).

      • Re:FYI (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ender Ryan ( 79406 )
        Yeah, well, as a non-Apple *nix user, Apple's DRM is preventing me from using their store, period. But regardless, I refuse to purchase anything that requires proprietary software to use. Architectures change. Software breaks. There is no guarantee that they won't stop supporting older formats one day and force you to buy it all again. Or they may just go out of business...

        Music collections can be worth several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars(mine must be close to 10k), ergo, _any_ DRM is un

  • Triangle (Score:5, Funny)

    by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:30PM (#9719365) Journal
    Triangle, man
    Triangle, man
    Triangle man hates DRM man
    They have a fight, triangle wins
    Trinagle man
  • Concerts. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:31PM (#9719368) Homepage
    > How would you eat then?

    Concerts. It's how artists make their real money anyway....
    • Re:Concerts. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Richthofen80 ( 412488 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:41PM (#9719492) Homepage
      if only this were true.

      bands might play a show every other night. Depends where and when they get there, if they own a touring van, and what nights will yield decent dough. As as idea, clubs usually take an obscene amount of 'the take' of a concert. After traveling and paying monkeys to set up their stuff, bands are lucky to come out on top. TMBG has a good draw, and earned it from trucking around and playing for 20+ years. But honestly, only a small subset of artists will make real money performing professionally. Most major artists tour to promote the album, not release an album to promote the tour.
      • Re:Concerts. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dclydew ( 14163 ) <> on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:53PM (#9719671)
        Well, it sucks to be those artists that can't make it like reasonable people. Musicians used to write for the love of writing and they performed for the love of performance, they were Artists. Now, the majority of them are closer to Con-Artists.

        If your music is good, I will pay to see you in concert (I saw TMBG for the big July 4th party in Columbus, OH and brought about 8 friends with me) and I will pay for your albums (I legally own every TMBG album). If your music is average, or bad, then you should get a real job.

    • Re:Concerts. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Saeger ( 456549 ) <farrellj AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:49PM (#9719611) Homepage
      > How would you eat then?

      Concerts. It's how artists make their real money anyway....

      But that's actual hard work! Artists would be forced to keep on working, like a plumber or a programmer, in order to continue earning a living. That's just absurd!

      Artists (read: LABELS) should naturally have the Right To Profit(TM) from artificially scarce old "intellectual property" for life+(next_copyright_extension) years.


    • They have been surviving for 20 years without traditional record contracts most of the time.

      They are selling the new songs, US$1 per, in addition to concerts and assorted materials. If they were giving away all the songs for free I would see the relavance of the question. Currently, I do not.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:31PM (#9719370)
    My head a-splode.
  • They ARE Giants. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) * on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:36PM (#9719430) Homepage
    TMBG are great. They're a couple of geeks who have managed to 'make it' doing something they love. They're nice, they're humble, they're good people, and they don't try to fuck people out of their money.

    America needs more TMBGs. I'm sickened by the greedy, self-important jackholedness that passes as 'American' these days. We used to be people who cared about each other; we used to ask what we could do for our country. Now, we're a bunch of jugular-sucking opportunists who take pride in bending the rules, running through loopholes, and shouting louder than the other guy.

    Bring back humility, honesty and generosity! Those are real values! Carry that torch, TMBG!

  • The bad music... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thephotoman ( 791574 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:37PM (#9719439) Journal
    What the labels need to do to get more circulation isn't DRM, but instead to oppose legislation that allows media giants to buy up radio and television stations son that such stations can back those artists who push the messages that those companies want the people to hear.

    This era in music is so depressing because the bands that are out there for the music are being drowned out by the bands out there for the money and sex, which is what the corperate machine would like to have people hear, in order to push a less-regulated business world into the mass mindset. This country suffers from severe groupthink, as has been demonstrated several times. The media companies want this. We, the music fans, just get screwed.
  • by Greenisus ( 262784 ) <> on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:39PM (#9719457) Homepage
    My stuff doesn't have DRM. But then again I'm no TMBG.
  • 'How would you eat, then?' 'That's my problem.'
    Right. I'm sure that they would have a problem coming up with cash for groceries.
  • by mbbac ( 568880 )
    I'd be interested in knowing their stance on spam, since they used to spam the hell out of my inbox.
  • by killdashnine ( 651759 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:46PM (#9719569) Homepage

    I'm glad that TMBG is realistic about the future of digital media. My money is on the future where musicans realize that their bread and butter lies in making life performances and distributing merchandise like t-shirts, posters, etc.

    The record industry, specifically the RIAA, are holding onto an anachronism ... they don't create the music, they help to distribute it. Unfortunately what they don't understand (and some artists do) is that free distribution gives people the chance to get into an artist's music. And when an enthusiast is serious, they'll pay for the quality that comes from having a clean and attractively packaged CD.

    Good job, TMBG! Now the rest of musicians need to fire their record labels ...

  • Sorry. No way. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:47PM (#9719590) Journal
    When are record companies going to realize that DRM isn't going to help them sell more of the bad music that dominates the airwaves?"

    When are you going to realize that complaining about the quality of the music you then download only makes it sound like you are trying to justify criminal activity?

    DRM isn't bad. If a vendor produces DRM products and you have a problem with that, don't buy them. It's just another option available to content producers and distributors. It has value, and it has its place.

    But, to then bypass DRM and download it is criminal activity. DRM is a lock to the content. It's illegal to pick locks on people's houses, but I don't see anybody here advocating picking houses in order to steal THEIR contents, why is music any different?

    I say let them use DRM to their heart's content. Let them put in all kinds of nasty, horribly restrictive DRM in everything they sell. It will only accellerate their decline, though it might prop up their profits a little while longer.

    The inevitable trend for music is away from wealthy, centralized music and towards a much smaller, decentralized, community supported scheme, where the indie bands have much more a chance of breaking even, and hardly anybody really "makes it big" anymore.

    Just as with software, the Internet is re-writing the rules of the marketplace. Just as Open Source software marches to the drum of inevitability in the marketplace, so do unrestrictive music distribution models.

    It's been a *long* time since the expense of recording quality music was beyond what could be achieved with some thrift-store mattresses, a garage, and a computer with a $200 sound card.

    In other words, in 1955, quality, good-sounding recording equipment was very expensive. Today, it's less than a thousand dollars.

    In 1985, it was very expensive to distribute music in bulk. Now, a commercially hosted website can get you going for $15.95 per month.

    That's the marketplace of today. That's what's going to do these guys under. Not DRM. Not "crappy music". (that people download and listen to anyway)

    If there's an area with legitimate concern about intellectual property, it's with copyright law and patent law. Sorry, but copyright law is no longer in alignment with its original purpose of promoting the development of literature and the arts. Neither is patent law, in its current incarnation, truly a socially healthy way to encourage invention and creativity.

    Work to change the real evils, and quit whining about people who try to prevent you from stealing.
    • "DRM isn't bad. It has value, and it has its place."

      The CD by Velvet Revolver has DRM. It keeps legitimate users from making copies. However, the CD was readily available for illegal downloading weeks before it was released. Thus, legitimate buyers cannot use it on their iPods and piracy was NOT stopped in anyway. Can you please explain to me where this value is?

      "It's illegal to pick locks on people's houses.." But it is NOT illegal to make copies of the music we buy. In fact, it's perfectly legal t
    • Re:Sorry. No way. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:02PM (#9719805) Homepage
      DRM isn't bad. If a vendor produces DRM products and you have a problem with that, don't buy them. It's just another option available to content producers and distributors. It has value, and it has its place.

      DRM is bad. While we may have difficulty making it completely illegal, I think it would be perfectly appropriate to grant copyrights only to those artists that don't use DRM, and to revoke their copyrights if they ever do use it.

      But, to then bypass DRM and download it is criminal activity. DRM is a lock to the content. It's illegal to pick locks on people's houses, but I don't see anybody here advocating picking houses in order to steal THEIR contents, why is music any different?

      That's precisely why DRM is bad. Music _IS_ different. We grant copyrights, but those copyrights are limited in scope; it is perfectly legal to engage in fair uses of music. It is perfectly legal to reproduce music within the scope of AHRA. It will be perfectly legal to reproduce music for any purpose we arbitrarily make legal tomorrow. And the Constitution requires that copyrights expire -- so when the term is up, anyone can do anything with the music and it is totally legal.

      These sorts of limitations that benefit the public are a significant difference as to ordinary personal or real property. Copyright is expressly and deliberately designed to benefit the public -- not the artists, not the publishers. DRM interferes with that, because it is a lock that does not ONLY protect against illegal uses, while allowing ALL legal uses, and because it does not magically evaporate when the copyright expires, and because the law can change all the time, and DRM already applied to a work will not.

      I would rather have the law be the ONLY protection on works because it is the only one that can even slightly be trusted to fulfill the public interest and incorporate those limits are as necessary for the public to be the most satisfied.

      Using DRM is like putting up a wall around a public park; maybe the park is only open at certain hours, but the wall closes it off all the time, and is therefore intolerable. It needs to be destroyed.
    • Radio Radio (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Steve525 ( 236741 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:13PM (#9719985)
      OK, that was a well written and thought out comment, but I disagree with it.

      Bypassing DRM should not be illegal. Copyright law gives certain rights to both the copyright holder, and the purchaser of the product. Slapping DRM on something does not automatically give the purchaser less rights, although it can make make it harder to exercise those rights. (At this point, both sides are using technology to go beyond what rights they are legitamately granted).

      As far as the rest of your comment goes, making and distributing music cheaply means next to nothing. The power is in RADIO! I can write and record the greatest song in the world, and put it up on my website for free. No one would care. If I were to go through some expense to promote it, (maybe tour, etc.), I might get a few people to care, but nothing even come close to the power of radio. As long as there's a tight grip on radio the battle is next to hopeless. And with consolidation of over-the-air radio, and the death of internet radio, it's only getting worse lately.
    • Re:Sorry. No way. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by koreth ( 409849 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:46PM (#9720522)
      DRM is a lock to the content. It's illegal to pick locks on people's houses, but I don't see anybody here advocating picking houses in order to steal THEIR contents, why is music any different?

      Music is only susceptible to piracy while its copyright is in effect. Assuming Disney eventually fails to sufficiently bribe lawmakers to keep passing copyright extensions, the copyright on every piece of music in your CD cabinet will expire one day. It will then be perfectly legal, and not even slightly unethical, to make as many copies of those CDs as you like.

      But if they're protected by DRM, you will be prevented from exercising that legal right, and the fact that it's illegal to break DRM schemes will mean that the music will have passed into the public domain in theory only.

      That's the problem with legally-backed DRM.

      But I agree with your main point about the radical change in the economics of the industry. Once enough artists clue into the fact that they'll end up with as much money, and much more creative control, keeping 90% of the profits on sales of 1000 self-promoted downloadable albums as they would with 1% of the profits on 90000 studio-promoted CDs, the labels are going to have a tough time attracting new talent, and they'll wither and die.

  • movie (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ggwood ( 70369 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:50PM (#9719634) Homepage Journal
    There is a documentary on the band called Gigantic, which, if you are a fan, I feel would be pretty amusing. I am not much of a fan but I have heard some of their stuff from 15 years back and I enjoyed the movie.
  • by MacBoy ( 30701 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:58PM (#9719746)
    DRM's only accomplishment is to make the record companies treat honest consumers (the people who have actually paid for the stuff) like criminals.

    If I pay to download a track, or pop my new CD into my CD-ROM, it comes complete with DRM. I can't play it on my other PC. Forget about playing it on my Mac at all. Can I transfer it to my NetMD portable? Good luck! No, I can only play it on my stupid computer on my crappy speakers. Not on my portable, not on my stereo. However if I just don't bother to pay for it, and download the track/album in mp3 format from any number of questionable sources, I can play it on whatever device I want. In other words, if I pay for it, the Label treats me like a criminal and restricts my ability to use what I paid for. Steal it, and I can do what I want.
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:02PM (#9719806)
    Long ago in the computer days of yore, artificial intelligence researchers created a revolutionary new language. A language which was flexible and elegent. A language which could better model thought. A language in which rested the hope of finally creating a sentient artificial being. This language was lisp.

    They all began working most diligently
    creating programs which behaved intellegently
    But these programs were lacking still.
    For when prompted they would only say

    Yet a researcher in the great white north continued on
    Feeding song after song into to his very own atomiton
    Then at last one tiresome night in 84
    he played a track he never played before.
    And queried the program:
    (giantsp they)
    To which it responded
    might be, eh
    /wanting to work that last line into a joke for years :)
  • by ErikRed1488 ( 193622 ) <> on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:04PM (#9719854) Journal
    TMBG was talking about having the rights to their digital music as opposed to their record company owning it. Basically, they are allowed to distribute it themselves. They were not talking about DRM in the sense of copy protected files.

    Did the submitter even read the article or was he just dense?

  • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:06PM (#9719882)
    It doesn't appear TMBG has taken any position on DRM in this article!

    The question from the interviewer was "Is this the way you see things going in the future--artists securing digital rights?"

    This is a question about getting the rights to distribute their work online, not about DRM. Record companies usually own the exclusive rights to distribute an artist's work in any format. The answer John Flansburgh gave speaks to the difficulty they had in securing (in the sense of "obtaining") the rights to distribute TMBG's music online themselves, independently of their label and distributors:

    "It was a strange negotiation. Extracting them was not as simple as it sounds, and most people don't go to the effort of holding on to that stuff..."

    Now, TMBG doesn't bother with DRM (their music has been available for years in unrestricted MP3 format on emusic), but this interview doesn't really speak to the question of DRM.


    • It's true they do not explicitly mention DRM, but by choosing to distribute MP3's for the album they are selling they are basically saying they do not need, or need to support, DRM. Same with the work they did with eMusic which was also straight MP3s.
  • EMusic (Score:3, Informative)

    by 26199 ( 577806 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:10PM (#9719956) Homepage

    Since they mention EMusic specifically... here's the EMusic TMBG page []. Nine albums for download as high-quality VBR MP3s. Not a DRM in sight...

    (To explain my sig... EMusic went through a period of severely sucking. They're back to being a pretty good site IMHO, worth a look).

  • Struggling artists (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:12PM (#9719976) Homepage Journal

    My sister and her husband are aspiring Country&Western artists/songwriters. Yeah, I know, but that's their dream.

    They're having trouble getting people to buy their music. Yeah, I was shocked, too. I suggested that they give it away. They didn't like that idea -- no money in it.

    "Why not?", I asked, "No one wants to pay for it. Why not generate some demand?"

    I think they're afraid the first song they give away might be the one that would have made them filthy rich if they'd just held on to it.

  • Differning Choices: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 ( 718736 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:25PM (#9720194)
    Before Napster and P2P
    • Don't buy a CD
    • Buy a CD I really really like
    • Copy a freinds CD
    Napster Era / Kazaa / etc
    • Don't buy a CD
    • Download a CD
    • Buy a CD I really really like
    • Copy a friends CD
    Post napster (lawsuit era)
    • Don't buy a CD
    • Download a CD
    • Buy a CD I really really like
    • Copy a friends CD
    Guess when I stopped buying CD's (except one's that I really liked)....I think it was 1991 or 1992. What stopped my from buying?

    Usually, I would hear a song on the radio, decide that I liked it, then go buy the album. If this album was good, I would usually buy a subsequent album from the same artist. If the first album was Crap, then no more albums from that artist. If the second album was crap, then no more albums from that artist.

    Everything right now is not art it's a pre-planned fad. Fad's never last, i.e. time to create a new boy band. But quality endures, even if it is truly overpriced - people will pay because it is quality. Look at any of the long lasting Artisans of watches, jewelry, etc. Sure you can buy knockoffs that look exactly the same, but people still buy the actual items.

  • Best Quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spezz ( 150943 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:59PM (#9720713)
    Pff...This is the best quote in the interview:

    MTV needs to climb out of their teeny-bop ghetto, dust themselves off and get back to the business of new wave.

  • Why pay.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @05:08PM (#9721573) Homepage Journal

    Why would I pay for music I can freely download from the internet when I'm going to be treated like a criminal either way? At least in the latter case there's no pretense of legitimacy on either side, and I might save myself some cash. If I buy a DRM crippled CD or MP3, I'm basically supporting the record companies' assertion that music fans are criminals.

    Here's a hint: As long as the RIAA views music fans as parasites, they'll never offer them anything of true value. The problem isn't DRM; the problem is that the RIAA has an adversarial attitude toward the public which engenders a spirit of retribution among music fans. After having seen themselves and their favorite bands treated like dirt by the record companies, it's easy for the average fan to justify downloading against the RIAA's wishes. Professional musicianship has now become a con game between the RIAA, the band, and the fans. The fans love the bands, the bands love the fans, and the RIAA hates them both. Is it any wonder people turn a blind eye toward illegal downloading?

  • I paid 13 dollars (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kredal ( 566494 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @05:31PM (#9721774) Homepage Journal
    The songs that you buy are in regular un-DRMed, easy to transfer or put on CD or put in iPod or put anywhere (including kazaa or whatever) MP3 files. On the download page, they ask you nicely not to share the songs on P2P services, but they don't force you not to by locking the songs to your computer with DRM. I like their approach. Sure, I could have illegally downloaded it all, but I like TMBG, and I want to see them make more music, so I'll support them any way I can.

    Rush just came out with a new mini-album called Feedback. I looked for it on iTunes, but couldn't find it, so downloaded it from bittorrent. But I kept looking for it on iTunes, and as soon as I saw it, I paid for it. Totally worth the 8 bucks.

    Support artists!
  • by c0d3h4x0r ( 604141 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @05:51PM (#9721998) Homepage Journal

    When are record companies going to realize that DRM isn't going to help them sell more of the bad music that dominates the airwaves?

    First of all, the TMBG interview didn't talk about DRM technology. It just talked about the band holding onto their rights to digitally distribute the music. I suppose that if they wanted to, TMBG could still slap DRM technology and restrictions onto the digital content they give away or sell.

    That said, as long as people keep buying up bad (unoriginal, uninteresting, trite, formulaic) music, the record companies will keep selling it. And the sad thing is that people will keep buying it up, because that music sounds original, interesting, and novel to the next upcoming generation of kids who haven't already heard it all before and who are more interested in image and style than in the actual music. Bad music will forever sell, because it will always seem new and interesting to stupid teenagers.

    It's interesting to hear people talk about "the music industry" when what is being sold is not primarily the music but the image. For instance, most rap doesn't sell because it's great music. Most rap sells because of its stereotypical woman-as-objects, BLING-BLING bullshit imagery that, for whatever ridiculous reason, millions of black and latino kids (and plenty of race-confused fat white chicks) find appealing. The RIAA ought to be the Retarded Image Assosciation of America, and their industry is the image industry, not the music industry.

    The real music "industry" doesn't try to sell image, but instead focuses on the music and message itself. This industry is arguably larger than the big evil "music" industry we all hear about, but it is composed mostly of independent bands and small labels that have nothing to do with the RIAA or the big studios. Bands like TMBG and Primus are more prominent examples, and they actually have more relation to the big RIAA industry than others... but for each independent band you've heard about, there are likely a thousand others that make great music you would enjoy if you could only find out about them. While they do each project their own image, it's not the entire (or main) point of what they do. The focus is on the music itself, and the substance actually exists to back up the image.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.