Originally posted by johnq
The problem with the Chuck D mentality is this:
He started from nothing, worked hard against all the adversity he likely faced, as anyone does in business but especially so a young black man in a fledgling music genre (at the time).
Thanks to the existing structure, he was able to amass a fortune....he's a multi-millionaire. Being successful is not a bad thing.
Problem is that now that he has climbed up the latter and is on the parapet, he wants to pull up the ladder behind him, so no one else can climb up out of the ghetto (or trailer park or tenements) they same way he did.
That's certainly not what he did. He battled against the odds in a system set up against him, lost a few battles (sampling), and won a few, and he's trying to use his influence to make it easier
for the next Chuck D. The industry is no friend to artists, and especially hip-hop artists. They make all their money with live shows and merchandise sales, like most musicians. There are a few, glittering exceptions, but they're exceptions.
The people trying to make it hard are the people supporting the status quo. It enriches them, so who cares what it does to someone else?
It is too arrogant/ignorant to suddenly say that the system is bad despite it working for you so magnificently. Any system can be made to work and be improved. But he wants to completely dismantle it with no logical, well-thought out replacement that I've ever heard of. (I'll gladly listen to alternatives).
I think you should read his arguments a little more carefully, and you should be aware that it's quite possible to benefit personally from a system while thinking the system is essentially broken, then turn around and use your success to reform it. It's not arrogance or ignorance, it's just keeping your eyes open and looking beyond your own person. After all, no-one would listen to Chuck D if he was some random guy trying to sell a few hundred copies of his self-published CD, right?
I mean I can envision a world where all music, all t-shirts, all posters, all CD/DVDs, all concerts are free, listeners/viewers pay nothing for anything anywhere. Let artists rely solely on voluntary contributions. Pay out of appreciation. I love you Ray Charles, here's $10.
You're missing the point. The point is not that everything should be free. The point is that right now, in the real world, artists are lucky to make a dime from a recording. They're far more likely to lose money, which gives the record company leverage over them, lather, rinse, repeat. Right now, in the real world, musicians make a living performing live and selling merchandise (some also by selling CDs at live shows, which you can do without major label support). So, as it is — and this attitude is common among the musicians I know, including my own band — CDs are seen as promotional material. It's a rare and privileged few who can actually make a living from CD sales. Given that, why bother trying to make recorded music a profit center? These days it doesn't cost much to make a decent record, so you can write it off as advertizing and distribute it as widely as possible. And which network distributes your work widely, for free? Oh, and it's patronized heavily by college students. They don't buy much in the best case, but their colleges pay very well. There are bands that do quite well for themselves touring college campuses.
This is not about a dream, and it's not about "everything should be free." It's about promotion, and in the end, about success on your own terms. Including financial success. And it addresses things as they are, not as someone would wish them to be. Believe me, there are a whole lot of people who dream of a music industry that works. And then they wake up.