Majectical Electrical

Michael Forrest has his new album out today. I’m downloading it now, and I commend you to do the same. It reminds me of artists as diverse as Cobra Killer through ATR to Momus and Barry Adamson. This is definitely going out on my ShowCenter.

I’m always interested in the way artists choose to distribute their work – in may cases more so than the work itself. Forrest is notable not least by adding some weight to a casual observation I made about a similar online distribution of a work by Paul Robertson. Forrest distributes the work via the Internet direct to the audience, but this time imposes a time window of 25 days. He also says nothing about any licence.

In the absence of any further information about the license, we must assume it defaults to restrictive copyright. However, I find this an intriguing development not only because Forrest is silent on this point, but also because he invokes the concept of scarcity.

In the digital age, there is copyright and shades of it meditated by CC. There is also the idea that nothing matters as long as its free. I don’t quite know how to deal with scarcity in either context. Perhaps I’m making too much of all this – but my point is that I think those who have championed alternative licensing models may have misjudged the way the public will use (or ignore) the provisions of such schemes. If REM can release videos under a perl licence, “rip, mix, burn” may start to apply to more than just the work itself.

4 thoughts on “Majectical Electrical”

  1. Thanks for the link :)

    Allow me to unsilent my thoughts on copyright regarding this recording.

    Two years ago I put out an album for free under a CC Attribution 2.5 License. One thing this exercise taught me was that a free product requires as much promotion as something that people have to pay for. So you might as well charge. If you can.

    I also reached the conclusion that convenience is key to digital distribution. Most people will take the path of least resistance. This is something Apple are excelling at exploiting (the other day I decided to go record shopping. I considered the prospect of going into town and wading through record stores trying to find stuff I wanted and then decided, instead, to stay in bed and buy some stuff through the iTunes store on my iPod Touch…) More on that here:

    I also watched, with some interest, the way Joss Whedon worked his Dr Horrible campaign last week. I am using this as a template for my strategy for this album. Something I neglected last time was the creation of a simple, easy to share nugget of web: this time I made a single, uncomplicated web page for people to link to. The time limit was inspired by Joss, and also plays nicely into the lag for getting music published on iTunes etc.. – I will be replacing the free link with links to music stores once this album starts appearing. I do not display a CC License, but I do say “please share” before I say anything else. I think the license I’ll end up putting this out under will be the CC non-commercial, share-alike license. I kept it as a simple (c) for the sake of simplicity more than anything else – people will copy it anyway but it seems easier to weaken a license in future than it is to strengthen it. In fact – the copyright sign is for the benefit of potential financial backers more than for the audience.

    Anyway. I haven’t head of Cobra Killer, ATR or Barry Adamson so I think I’d better get on Deezer ;)

  2. Thanks Michael. I didn’t actually scroll far enough to see the copyright statement, so that’s demolished most of what I was talking about! In theory at least, those who download the material should assume they have a single, non-transferable licence for it unless stated otherwise I think, so they cannot in fact pass it on to others. I know some professional copyright giants sometimes read this blog, so they may correct me on that point.

    Be that as it may, I’m not sure I completely follow your logic overall, but then business models for music are as complex as they are numerous so I won’t go into that. What is clear though is that you and others are playing fast and loose with copyright of all kinds. I think that’s a good thing, although I’m sure there are some on both sides of the debate that won’t.

  3. I have to say that I prefer (say) Momus’s output. ;)

    However, that’s neither here nor there really. I need to look into the who CC aspect as I have a free download available here: with no kind of copyright (or lack of) attributed to it.

    I have a follow-up download available as a “pay what you like” a la Radiohead but am stil not convinced that this is the way to go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *