Interview in Digital Audio & Video Magazine (, Oct ’02:

– Do you use Linux? If so, what distribution?
No. I had a Debian/Mac OS9 dual-boot setup for a while, then I got OSX; now I’m dual-booting OS9 and OSX. I’ll be sticking with OS9 until Digidesign decides to support OSX (unless I decide to switch to Logic or Cubase). If audio on Linux ever gets as robust as on the Mac, you can be sure I’d switch to Linux in a heartbeat, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

– You’re making money with the OSML project?
Yes, but not enough to support myself yet. Of course, part of this is due to my relaxed (read: I’ll get around to it later) marketing strategy. I’m getting about as many sales as I figured I would, but way more downloads. The question is, how many of those people who downloaded the whole album would’ve bought it if I had only posted part of the album? There’s no way to tell, but I’m willing to err on the side of more people enjoying my music.

– There’s any difference between OSML and GPL, besides the fact that the first is for music and the last is for software?
I tried to keep it as close to the GPL as possible. The major difference is that I felt I needed to add two terms (terms nine and ten in the OSML). Term nine says that you’re allowed to broadcast the recording for free, as long as you give the author credit, and ten says that you’re not allowed to broadcast or distribute the recording alongside accompanying video. Term nine is very much in the spirit of open source, but I had to deliberate about term ten for a while. In the end, I decided it was needed, since nothing can ruin your appreciation of a song like seeing it in a crappy commercial. To this day, I can’t listen to Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” without thinking of American Airlines. And that’s after watching “Manhattan” a couple times. On the other hand, I think Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” was made better by the gorgeous cinematography in that VW commercial for the Cabrio, while at the same time the visuals were strengthened by the presence of the song. But that’s very rare.

– How, in your opinion, would be the future of the music distribution? What will be the role of the record companies in this future?
You’ll be able to get more and more stuff through p2p, until you can find just about anything quickly and easily; there’s no doubt about that. The flood is coming and no levee or law can hold it back. Musicians will basically have to start coming up with good reasons for people to actually buy their CDs. For some, the act of supporting the band and the convenience factor will be enough. For the ones with ties to major labels, it won’t be. Maybe some will start investing more thought and effort into their album’s packaging. The packing of my own albums is very important to me, no less than the music. Kid Koala’s CD came with a comic that he wrote and drew himself. How cool is that?
The major labels are so gonna die, slowly and with much lay-offing and gnashing of salaries. They have outs (adapt their business model to include p2p, and give artists reasonable contracts), but their greed will keep them from trying any of those angles until it’s too late. They’re on a power trip, and they think draconian measures like lawsuits and copy-protection will safeguard their revenue stream. But they’re just shooting themselves in the foot, and soon it’ll be in the head. The DMCA will be repealed, and they will have less and less influence in congress. The next ten years, maybe even five, will be very interesting. Bowie says that recorded music will become unprofitable and artists will have to tour to make their living, but I don’t think that’s any more true than Glenn Gould’s assertion that recordings will spell the death of the live performance. I just think that the fact that you can make a great-sounding album for well under $10,000 today will spur more and more musicians to start their own labels, like Ani DiFranco or Aimee Mann. Some of these will be (and even are!) successful enough so that new musicians will sign with them rather than get gutted by a major label, and the manufactured world of MTV and Clear Channel will get smaller and smaller as more and more musicians are celebrated for their skills and not their sexy stomachs. The RIAA will be in full control over the CD collections of middle-aged men and pre-pubescent teens, and that’s about it. I don’t think we’ll ever see the end of plastic pop like Britney Spears, because a lot of people like that sort of stuff, and there’s nothing wrong with that; but at best, the role of the large record company (at least as it relates to a talented musician) will turn into one of service. They’ll provide a production, distribution and advertising service for a fair percentage of the profits of the album sales. Pretty soon, it’ll be unheard of for an artist to give up any song rights in return for a contract.
Personally, I’d like to see high-profile artists like Madonna release their songs as open source. I have this vision of club-hopping and hearing Madonna’s latest hit song in every club, except not getting sick of it, because every DJ will have his own exclusive remix that he put together on his home computer, and they all would sound totally different.

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