February 2006

The music “industry” – should songs or poetry be looked at merely as a product?

The artists in the story were very concerned about the fact that others are stealing their money by pirating their songs – and rightly so. Since as a rule copyright applies to all creative work – and noone has the right to copy it without the artists’ permission.

But the question remains – is it right for the artists to look at their profession as a job – is it right to call their songs “products” – a once-off thing sold to the audience.

In today’s consumer society once-off products are sold – once consumed – they end up in the bin – noone reuses them – but rather – buy new products and consume them. The products once in the bin – are considered “waste”. When it comes to music – can one ever look at a song as “waste” – never to be reused again?

If one looks at folk culture – stories and songs go from person to person freely – noone really knows who was the original author – the stories, poems, songs were part of culture and were not part of a “consumer culture”. If one looks at jazz music – it is based on the constant “reusing” of melodies and rhytms – just like – anything else in our society since nothing exists in a vacuum.

This way of thinking results in artists and audiences separated – no little concern for each other – so not surprising that artists talk about people that listen to their music as pirates and the audience – so far removed from the artists – are not concerned any more about the well-being of the artists. Should all those people that listen to the music be called pirates – or is there another way to make sure that the music gets to its audience without calling them pirates?

While it is highly unfair to take and resell music without the artists’ permission – are the artists sure that they themselves have created a culture where there are legal mechanisms in place to share and reuse their own music ( which they also compiled based on previous influences from other artists ).

Another important point is that an artists’ responsibility is not merely providing and selling a product but also highlighting issues in their societies and making their audiences aware of problems.

These are some of the questions open source communities / open content initiatives all around the world try to address and make sure that authors like artists, musicians, poets, writers are acknowledged – and in the same time the audience has legal tools to reuse materials and provide very valuable feedback about all published materials. The audience then also has the option to become artists/creators themselves – just like in folk culture where absolutely everyone has the right to sing a song and change it they way he/she likes to sing it.

Creative Commons (www.creativecommons.org) offers authors various open licenses that they can use should they wish to make sure that their creative work is later reused, modified or even resold.

The question is : if pirating of a certain material (like software or music or any other product ) becomes the norm – shouldn’t the “industry” or the authors rethink the basic rules of music/software production or should they carry on the same way.

OpenCafeBlog: Go_open is now available for download from the Internet Archive

Most local artists here in South Africa don’t really understand the reason for using exclusively open source software for our art projects.

Watching the 13 episodes of Go_open will answer most of your questions around open source – and will also explain why many artists around the world opt for using open source software and why they choose Creative Commons licenses for publishing their books or songs.

OpenCafeBlog: Teach – a great Creative Commons movie

Great CC licensed film – to see it all you have to do is – download it – or get a copy from the OpenCafe!

Richard Frank from Tectonic has recently contacted us to find out more about ArtMarketonline .

Click here to read the story.

Our ArtMarketOnline project continues this year – right now we are busy with Kevin, Cymba and Netanya.

Cymba starts the year with doing the basic computer skills course at the cafe – he comes twice a week to do the training – Kevin comes once a week to use the computers and the NET and is busy with updating his site – Netanya is also busy with regular updates on her site.

We have also started teaching basic guitar skills to some of our OpenCafe students in the multimedia room.

on book launches ?
Seeing as my book was first published in May 2005 and been on the ISBN database since October of that year, does that mean that it is too late to throw an official book launch party ?

I have been thinking about this, it does appear to be the next logical step in promoting my book to the more traditional outlets. The ISBN was the first step as it allows bookstores to actually find the book – but now people and bookstores need to know it exists and I have been wondering how best to let them know.
I wouldn’t have written and published it if I didn’t think it was something people might want to read – something in other words which bookstores would be able to get some sales out off, and every new channel that opens is one more person I manage to touch.

It took me seven years to write that book and so obviously (call it author’s vanity) I would like as many people as possible to read it.
So lately I have been seriously wondering if such a book launch can still be held, and if so – how would one go about arranging it ?
I am certainly open to advice from other people who have gone through the harrowing experience of learning that when you want to publish a book there is pretty much no information on how to go about it, if you then take it further and choose to self-publish you have an even greater shortage of information on how best to promote your work. While publishing through lulu has many upsides, nobody told me what to write etc. there is one major downside – traditional media has a large budget for marketing, the new media economy doesn’t have it (yet) – so getting the word out can be a little a trickier at times.

In the same veign I have been trying to find out how one would get your book reviewed in the papers – do you just send them a copy ? Bad reviews I can live with, no reviews I’m not so sure about.