Saturday, October 13, 2007

All work and no pay make Jack a poor boy.

The greatest thing happened today. I was the 15th caller into a radio-station contest and won the chance to talk via IM with Jack Whyte, who is about 40% of the hit musical group The Whyte Strypes.
    JW: Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?
    BN: Mr. Whyte? Is that really you?
    JW: Please, call me Jack.
    BN: Hi Jack. Call me Brent.
    JW: Hi Brent.
    BN: Hi.
    JW: Hi.
    BN: Hi.
    JW: Very well then. Will that be all?
    BN: No no. I'm so excited to be able to chat with you. I'm like your #1 fan. (I can hardly believe I've got Jack Whyte on IM.) My 20 other friends I'm chatting with now can hardly believe it.
    JW: This is the first time I've used IM actually. Excuse my ignorance. What do you want to talk... er, "chat" about?
    BN: I dunno. Um. Oh, I know. How's your sister Meg?
    JW: She's recovering. Thanks for asking. Actually, she's not my sister. That's a common misconception because we're both named Whyte. Truth is, we used to be married.
    BN: You're kidding, right? In an IM, when you're kidding you should add a little smiley emoticon, like this :)
    JW: No, I'm not kidding. Meg and I used to be married.
    BN: You married your sister?!! That is so... you artists really do live by a different set of rules. Right on, Mr. artist!
    JW: You misunderstand. I didn't have sex with my sister.
    BN: You didn't have sex with your sister/wife. Yeah, right ;)
    JW: Right.
    BN: Right ;) ;) ;) ;)
    JW: Huh? What's with all the weird punctuation?
    BN: It's an emoticon, like I was telling you about earlier. ;) is a winking face. I was winking when I said that thing about sex with Meg, your wife/sister. Truth be told, Meg is hot!!! If Meg Whyte were my sister, I'd have sex with her too.
    JW: Let's get off Meg!
    BN: Do you mean "let's get off Meg ;) " ?
    JW: Talk, I mean chat, about something else for fuckallsakes.
    BN: OK. Um... How about this topic: Jack, I'm a big fan of yours. I think you were great in "School of Rock" and "King Kong." :)
    JW: You're thinking of Jack Black... Oh, I get it. Another smiley. It was a joke.
    BN: Exactly.
    JW: Let me try one: I chat, therefore IM :)
    BN: Well done. Bravo!
    JW: So are you really a Whyte Strypes fan, or was that a joke too?
    BN: I'm a ginormous fan. I've downloaded all your albums from fan sites. All of them. I especially like "Take me from behind, Satan," and the follow-on "Sticky Rump," but the old stuff is good too, especially some of the studio out-takes. And the live MP3s like the 2002 show from Stuttgart, Germany: smokin' hot "My Balls and Biscuit" on that one!
    JW: Downloaded from fan sites? What are you talking about?
    BN: Fan sites. You know, like Pirate Bay, BitTorrent Trackers, Places like that where the real fans are.
    JW: You mean you have all my music and you never paid?
    BN: Of course I never pay. I'm a fan. I'm in it for the music; for you, Jack. Not for the labels. For the music. Besides, I did pay once, when I was in a hurry, I did buy one of your albums from allofmp3 for a dollar or so. And I bet you didn't see a bit of that dollar, did you?
    JW: You're right. I got none of the money you paid to allofmp3.
    BN: See? That's just what I told you. Those fucking labels!
    JW: You never pay The Whyte Strypes any money, you steal all our music, and you call yourself our biggest fan?
    BN: Don't say "steal." Say "share." Stealing is bad. Sharing is warm and fuzzy and good. And I don't share all your music. I don't have anything from that other band you're in.
    JW: You mean The Entrepreneurs?
    BN: Yes. The Enter.. Entrep... uh... that one. That word is way too hard to spell in the file sharing programs. If you want more fans you need band names that are easier to spell.
    JW: By "fans" you mean people like you, who don't pay. How am I supposed to make a living if nobody pays?
    BN: Wow, Mr. Whyte, for such an excellent musician, you sure don't know much about music, do you?
    JW: Uh. I don't know how to respond to that. Please educate me.
    BN: I'm no expert. You should read people like Cory Doctorow, who tells us that sharing is good, promotes free speech, helps artists, is inevitable anyway, and prevents the tyranny of artists profiting from their creations. Or read this Michael Arrington guy who has fancy economics talk to prove that music has to be free.
    JW: Are these guys musicians?
    BN: No, but they both have very succesful blogs: boing boing and TechCrunch.
    JW: Let me guess. They copyright these blogs to prevent unlawful copying and commercial sharing :)
    BN: Yes. Nice try with the emoticon... but I don't see your point. You're getting off-topic. I'm trying to help you here.
    JW: OK. Help me. How am I supposed to make money if people won't pay for my records?
    BN: It's in that last blog. I'll cut and paste it here: artists need to "stop thinking of digital music as a source of revenue and start thinking about it as a way to market their real products."
    JW: I can't believe you wrote that without using one of your smiley emoticons.
    BN: Those are only used after silly, funny, or ironical statements?
    JW: Ironical?
    BN: I don't know what it means either. Ask Alannis.
    JW: What are these "real products" I'm supposed to be marketing.
    BN: You're a creative guy. Surely you can come up with a creative new business model now that your old model is dead. I hear there's a lot of money in T-shirts. Or car commercials--get your song on a car commercial and you'll make a bundle. Maybe you could start a blog?
    JW: How about concerts?
    BN: I wasn't going to bring up concerts. First because I know that's a sore point since Meg had her little breakdown. But also because I've become enlightened to the fact that paying money for concert tickets is just as bad as paying for recordings. It's just another way to give money to the wrong people (labels, concert promoters, parking lot attendants, ticket-takers, beer-sellers) instead of to the real artists.
    JW: So now you're going to tell me, without a smiley, that concert tickets should be free too?
    BN: Yes. That's why I've started TicketShare Bay, where a true fan can send in a ticket and we quickly reproduce that ticket to share with tons of other fans. I don't mind telling you, I'm making a bundle of money. I love live music.
    JW: Is there an emoticon that represents slowly squishing someone's genitalia in a table vice?
    BN: No. Why do you ask? Is that going to be your next album cover?
    JW: Did you hear the real story behind Meg's emotional concert trauma, and why we stopped touring?
    BN: No. BTW, I lost a bundle at TicketShare Bay when you cancelled the rest of your tour. But, hey, I'm not mad. That's just business, right? Go ahead with your story.
    JW: We were going to do a little show in Dubuque. A small theater seating only 200, real intimate. By the time of the concert we'd only sold 3 tickets. Three! We say "OK, the show must go on," get into the hall, and it's a mad house. 3000 people show up with tickets!
    BN: My records show it was more like 2,787, but sorry to interrupt. Please continue.
    JW: The hall is overflowing onto the stage. I'm stepping across bodies. Someone pulls Meg down by the hair. The fire marshal comes in with his horn blaring, people think there's a fire, they panic. We barely got out alive! Oh my god! Oh my god!!!
    BN: Here's a little IM tip, buddy. Use OMG! OMG!!! It's a lot faster.
    BN: Hello? Hey, Jack. You still there? Hello?
    BN: Hello?
    BN: Hello?
    JW: Hello.
    BN: Hey, Jack. You've been gone a long time. What's up?
    JW: This isn't Jack, it's Meg. Jack won't be back for a while. He wasn't feeling so good and needs to rest.
    BN: That's terrible. What happened?
    JW: I don't know. Something got him really upset. He talked to our mom and dad for a while, but that didn't help.
    BN: Sorry to hear that.
    JW: Yeah. So I did what I could to make Jack feel better. Now he won't be back online to talk to you for a while, because he always takes a long nap after we make love. Goodbye.
Artists. They have sex with their siblings. They think we should pay for their creations. Artists truly do have different moral values than the rest of us.