Sunday, April 1, 2012

Amour & Discipline: A New Sharing Paradigm?

Hello lunáticos,

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of maintaining a blog devoted to the sharing of music is the misinformation that the entertainment industry (aka "Big Content") and its political minions constantly disseminate regarding the relationship between copyright laws, piracy and file sharing.  Simply put, at least in the U.S., file sharing does not legally equate to theft, this according to the U.S. Supreme court in a 1985 decision, which drew a clear distinction between theft and copyright infringement: "The infringer invades a statutorily defined province guaranteed to the copyright holder alone [....] But he does not assume physical control over the copyright; nor does he wholly deprive its owner of its use." The upshot of this is that file-sharing and personal copyright infringement are not criminal acts unless in pursuit of profit (they are technically referred to as "civil matters"), despite the endless flow of propaganda stating otherwise emanating from the MPAA and RIAA.

The real discussion to have is whether, ultimately, file-sharing negatively impacts the artists. Such arguments usually claim that sharing music is tantamount to taking money out of the pockets of artists, but what gets left out of the equation is the fact that copying music, whether in the form of ripping a CD to a harddrive or years ago, making a cassette mix-tape for a friend, in other words, people sharing music, has been an integral part of the appreciation and promotion of music for decades. While there are many artists who vociferously oppose file-sharing, Metallica and Julian Cope come to mind, there are many more who understand the promotional breadth and power of a free internet. Having said this, another way to look at this issue is to ask to what extent the major labels themselves are even necessary in the context of a free internet? They may claim to be looking after the financial welfare of their artists, but in reality, the artists take away a very small percentage of the profits generated by their work. In fact, it is easier to argue that it is the RIAA, not the music sharing community, that is truly guilty of theft. Perhaps it is time for these greedy corporate lackeys to go the way of the dinosaurs.

As a blogger, I have read countless comments by readers who, after discovering an artist on the blog by downloading shared files, say that they intend to purchase a physical copy of the posted album. While this is by no means true for all downloaders of shared files, it is far from the exception. I myself have purchased more music in the fifteen months I have been blogging than at any time in the past five years. All this brings me to the real point of this post, to introduce a new way of thinking about the issue of file-sharing and artist compensation: an artist donation platform & collective webzine called Amour & Discipline, which will make it possible to send voluntary donations of any amount to any indie artist or label on the planet.

From the founders of A&D, idealistic diy activists from Lyon, France, who have clearly put a lot of time, energy and passion into coming up with what could be the next stage in this ongoing conversation:

"The goal of A&D is notably to reach those who download a lot of music and don't buy records anymore. Let's face it: RIAA and others will never stop filesharing, nor convince everyone to opt for "legal" offers. Besides, most of them aren't very fair with artists (iTunes, Spotify...except Bandcamp). Technology leads to the fact that bands and labels have to give away their music, whether they like it or not. However, we think a lot of people downloading those records for free still want to support the artists/labels. So we want A&D to provide a direct, responsible and non-constrained way to pay back, in order to humbly help independent musical scenes to keep it up. A&D can also be very useful to support bands/labels whose records are out of print."

Here are a few links to the A&D website, which go into great depth about how this will all work:

Amour & Discipline Manifesto (Short, Reductive and Incomplete Manifesto for Those in a Hurry)

More on How the A&D Donation Platform Will Work and on Transparency in the Donation Process

Amour & Discipline has impressed me with its emphasis on, and commitment to, transparency in the donation process, and I want to stress that donations are entirely voluntary. Also, the author(s) of this blog (which is only me at the moment) receive absolutely NO COMPENSATION through Amour & Discipline. Meta (~) Luna is committed to the principle that music-sharing blogs should in no way generate profits for their authors, whether it be via donations, ads, file-host points or anything else.

Thank you for reading   ~ v


  1. We life in different times it's very very simple. Because of the internet most people are much less willing to pay for the privilege of listening to music. You just can't fight that, it is how it is. The paradigm has changed, the music business is no longer about selling CD's or selling physical products. Of course there will always be a small market for high quality vinyl records and stuff like that for people who wanna listen to them and collect them and own them. But It's not gonna be the main source of income for the music industry anymore.
    No,it's the Bands or the musician themselves now. They are the "product" now if you will. Whether it's Live Shows or selling their music for advertising and commercial things, selling merchandise, stuff like that. It's a good thing though because the connection between the musicians and their followers are now the "main thing". That means record labels, producers and Studios have now to be much more collaborative with the bands unlike in other times in music history.

    I'm not quite sure but as far as I understood your care is primarily for indie bands right?
    I can recommend this YouTube video (CLICK HERE) here. But you should jump to minute 4:20 though.
    But anyway the clip is about Steve Albini on the music industry and if you know Steve Albini you know that this guy is indie as fuck.
    And I also recommend the documentary film where this clip is from. It the film "D.I.Y. or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist" perhaps you've already heard about it. The film is a celebration of the underdog and deals with why artists do what they do, regardless of the lack of a continuous paycheck.
    The film features some artists that define the DIY ethic and speaks to the overall DIY culture. It features interviews with Lydia Lunch, Ian MacKaye, J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr, Jim Rose, J. G. Thirlwell of Foetus, Mike Watt, Eric McFadden, Richard Kern (filmmaker), Ron Asheton of The Stooges, Madigan Shive of Bonfire Madigan, and Dave Brockie of Gwar, among others. The DVD was released under the title "D.I.Y. or Die: Burn This DVD" with no region restrictions or copy protection. Director Michael W. Dean allowed and even encouraged people to make copies for non-commercial use.

    1. BobbyBalboa, thank you for taking the time to share such an insightful comment. I will track down the documentary you recommended. I suppose my care is for indie artists and forgotten artists who are either entirely out of print or relegated to the dustbins of the label who now owns their work. Once again, thanks for your input!

  2. Frankly, I've been hoping something like this would come along. Kudos to them!

  3. MAZE, I have been too. I think in many cases, the artists would make more via this type of platform than what they do per digital download through sites like iTunes, given the artist's cut is so small on those so-called "legitimate" sites.

  4. The model that a free dl is a lost sale is in error. I do lots of downloading. I still spend as much on vinyl & cds as I can possibly afford. Most of the titles I buy in CD or LP format I already have in lossless digital audio from a free download. So, free downloads *guide* my purchasing. In my case, free downloads result in sales. Am I the only one? I doubt it.

    1. DanP, I'm the same way. I spend far more money now (most of which I can't really afford) than I ever did before I started downloading lossless music. I've always felt file-sharing is the best kind of promotion: effective and free! However, I do like the idea of having the ability to donate some money to an artist if I want to. In the larger context of public perception, such a platform also clearly counters the lies spread by Big Content that we in the music sharing community are simply about getting something for nothing. Thanks for the great comment!

  5. Can you lighten the colour of your text please? It's moidah, I tell you, moidah.

    1. Hi, if you are having trouble with the text colour, just highlight what you are reading and it will lighten things up quite a bit. I prefer to keep the look of the blog as it is :)

    2. Also, if you are using IE as a browser, it makes the background of the blog lighter, thus making it harder to read. Firefox is the best way to view the blog as it is intended to look (with a much darker background)