The cabinet maker

Thursday 22 September 2011, 15:49

Adam Walton Adam Walton

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There is a man in a village somewhere in Wales. He is more good than bad. He still feels guilty about the ants, the spectacles and the sunlight when he was a kid. He got a buzz out of Bob-a-Jobbing for the OAPs but he's also got into a few scuffles, kissed some girls he shouldn't have done, and he has been known to take a few drinks. Still, he is a long way south of being a bad man.

One of the things that keeps him on the straight and narrow is his passion. It has stopped his days from filling with bitterness or boredom. Because his folks have instilled in him a strong work ethic, he becomes very good at it.

His passion is to work with wood. He started off whittling in his room when he was a boy. Then he learnt about dovetails and filled the family house with boxes in a multitude of sizes. The walls fairly teetered with all of the shelves and cupboards. He put his dues in, but it rarely felt like hard work. It felt like his calling.

He left school with a few bits of paper in his hand. His mum and dad are proud of the pieces of paper, but he's not all that bothered. He knows what he wants to do. So he starts a business, earns himself a wife who loves him for his heart and his fingertips, and works to keep a roof over his new family's head.

He spends a week building a cabinet out of the finest wood he can find. He puts an advert in the newspaper. "Handmade oak cabinet. £150." A friendly woman comes into his shop and marvels at the cabinet: "That's just what I was looking for! I didn't think I'd ever find one this perfect. Oh, I will definitely tell all of my friends about this. It's expensive, but you get what you pay for."

The man sells the cabinet to the woman. She's very happy and so is the man. The £150 pays for food, water, the roof and clothes for his new baby.

His reputation spreads to the villages in the vicinity and the nearby town. The workshop gets a little bigger. He employs a couple of people to help him. There is another baby. The fact that the supermarket down the road has started selling cheap imitations of his cabinets seems to have made people value his work more. For a while, life is good.

But he begins to notice a change in the attitude of the people arriving at the shop. Some appear to be surprised that he wants money for his cabinets.

"These are very nice," says one customer stroking the wood. "But I can get this free elsewhere. Why do you want me to pay for it?"

This confuses the man. Where can you get cabinets for nothing?

Another customer picks a cabinet up and starts to take it to his car without paying.

"You want money for this? Really? It's just a cabinet..."

These incidents worry the man a little. But mostly people still come and are happy to buy his finely-crafted cabinets.

However, unbeknown to the man - initially, at least - there has been an amazing new technological development. Some of his customers are - by virtue of this new magic - able to take his cabinets home with them and make perfect, loveless facsimiles of them. They share them amongst their family and friends with a large amount of pride.

A curious new network is harnessed to share these perfect facsimiles all over the world. It isn't long before the people most lustful about cabinet sharing forget all about the man with the roof and the babies and the wood and the tools. As the months pass, more and more of the sharers have no idea that the cabinets came from actual human hands. They think cabinets fall out of the sky perfectly formed, or - at least - out of Channel 3 on a Saturday evening.

Impenetrable philosophies of entitlement spread between the sharers in a superflu of ignorance. They think that by passing on things made with passion, vision and talent they are somehow more passionate, visionary and talented themselves, romantic Robin Hood figures, benevolently sharing out the world's cabinet riches because the corporate daddios behind all this wood don't need no more of our bread, man!

No-one raises a dissenting voice for our man, independent and alone with his talents and his roof and the babies and the wood and the tools. Far fewer customers turn up at his workshop. Life becomes a struggle. He sees cabinets almost everywhere he goes, but the love that he put into making them isn't reflected by the people who have them strewn all over their houses and gardens.

His sense of anguish is amplified by the letters he receives praising the quality of his cabinets. He gets thousands of letters from lovers of his wonderful cabinets from all over the world, but his order books show he only sold them in their hundreds.

His fame as a cabinet maker is now international, but he can no longer afford to get his kids a school uniform that fits. He never sees his wife because she's out doing shift work. He breaks a chisel and can't afford to replace it.

Someone in the pub suggests he should take the cabinets he can no longer afford to make to various showrooms around the world, forget about ones he's losing on the network, write them off as 'advertising'.

Another suggests he should be grateful that people want his cabinets enough to steal them and that, anyway, he should just be making them for the love of making them. This bloke, aglow with the righteousness of someone completely unaffected by the subject they're lecturing on, even dares criticise this most talented of cabinet-makers for not embracing the times: "Nowadays, we can all make our own cabinets! I've got GarageCarpenter on my computer at home. Why should you expect to go into the finest workshops or have access to the best tools and materials?"

The man hears a silent coda at the end of this question: "if I can't", but he doesn't say anything. What's the point? He realises he has become Canute of oak. It's a desperate situation. More people than ever have his cabinets, they boast about how many they have in front of his face, but none have paid for them.

"Things have moved on," they say. "Get with the times."

But the times don't count for much at the supermarket checkout or with the red letter demands that pile up every morning on his doormat.

One cold night, the cabinet maker waits for his wife to go out to work, tucks his children up in bed, and reaches for the length of hosepipe he hid behind his dusty workbench. But the engine coughs and splutters to a halt before the car fills with enough fumes. Petrol's a bit more expensive than it used to be. He just sits there coughing a bit.

His eyes could be watering because of the smoke, or they could be tears. It doesn't make any difference. It certainly doesn't to the guys in the pub who get to go home to houses so full of cabinets that most of them are left to moulder in the back garden or in the neighbour's skip.

The man ends up temping for an agency. His hands go soft. His face goes blank. It's not long before the people in the pub start bemoaning the lack of decent cabinets "these days".

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The Brothers Grimm! Nice one Adam, now your education is coming to the fore, great analogy.

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    Comment number 2.

    This is my story - how did you know?

    I ran an antique furniture business for 15 years with a workshop repairing and making furniture to order.
    I started small in partnership with a cabinet maker and the business grew and provided us and our families with a good living, until after about ten years, people slowly stopped wanting antique furniture as the Ikea generation took hold.
    People stopped looking at furniture as a quality investment to be loved for life and passed on, rather they wanted something to last a couple of years and then thrown away, to be replaced by more low quality mass produced products.
    Life became harder for me and my family as the business shrank, despite our efforts to work longer hours for less income.
    We couldn't compete with Ikea and we closed our business after my partner died (partly as a result of worry and hard work), but I didn't contemplate suicide because I know that the one constant in life is change and those who cannot embrace change are lost.
    We are alive in a free society and we have the ability to adapt and work with life's changes - or we can just sit and moan about the good old days.

    I have also been a semi professional musician for 35 years and the recent technological developments with regard to internet distribution of music and particularly illegal downloads have created both problems and opportunities for me along with many musicians. I believe it is those of us who are most able to adapt and even embrace these changes, that will survive to continue to make our music and get it heard, whilst trying to make an honest crust.

    Yours is a very eloquent story Adam and I don't know if it is true as mine is, but the morale is the same: you can't stop the world.

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    Comment number 3.

    Hugo - thank you. My daughter planted the seed. She makes me read the unexpurgated Grimm Tales to here most nights. Crazy girl.

    Tacsi - no one's is moaning about the old days. Morals aren't something to eschew because of 'progress'. In fact, there's a strong - albeit somewhat naive - argument for defining progress along a more refined moral code.

    Stealing is wrong.

    And I'm angry because a thousand arguments / justifications / red herrings about 'progress' all get thrown at this particular argument, but none can explain away that fundamental point.

    Take something that someone wants reparation for, and you're stealing. Plain and simple. And that erosion of income is threatening truly great bands. Not semi-professionals who choose to record in their front room.

    The moral writ too large and too obvious in this story is that no amount of flannel / self justification / ivory tower pontificating can can obscure the plain fact that the artists many of us love the most are being crippled by the shallow greed and opportunism of elements of their fanbase. It's time that was acknowledged but not accepted. It's time some kind of moral code was drawn up around digital models of distribution that wasn't predicated on the whole thing being controlled by an evil, corporate, major label empire (all poppycock, of course.)

    Music is one of humankind's greatest achievements.

    I value it and I'm willing to pay for it.

    If you (plural, not singular) don't, then I'd suggest you're more in love with having things than supporting music.

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    Comment number 4.

    I don't disagree with you Adam - stealing is wrong (and I am not a thief by the way), but this issue is more complex than that.
    People who download music illegally, do not see themselves as thieves and I don't think they are likely to any time soon.
    I remember the 'home taping is killing music' campaign and it did nothing to deter the practise.
    Did you never record an album from a friend onto cassette, did you never record onto tape from the radio?
    Have you ever loaned a CD to a friend who has then copied it?
    If not, you are in a minority and the rest of us stand in your pious judgement.
    The fact is that things change and some people don't like it, while others just get on with it.

    The invention of the printing press caused similar consternation amongst those that wanted control of information as the current file sharing issues do now.
    Authors at that time, couldn't stand to see their works distributed freely in print and there were attempts to make printing illegal.
    Eventually, people accepted and adapted to the new technology and now we quote written work without a thought to the rights of the authors.

    I understand your anger, but I think it is misplaced as if you feel the world is full of thieves hell bent on ruining the lives of hard working musicians.
    CD sales will continue to fall as will the value of recorded music in any format, but sales from recordings are not the only or even the most important sources of income for most bands and prices will settle at the level the market demands.
    Those musicians who can work with the situation, rather than wishing it was different, will succeed in taking advantage of the current market, rather than bemoaning it.

    I do not know any of the truly great bands whose existence is threatened in the way you describe, but I do sympathise with them.
    My advice would be to try and work with the technology to find new models and ways of generating income, as many artists are already doing.

    I am not semi pro by choice - I would love to be professional as I once was and I don't record on a laptop at home out of choice, but from necessity.
    I have been in a touring band, earning a regular wage and I know many other musicians at all levels in the business, but things change and now I am trying to get my music out there as best I can (not easy when you're not truly great).

    I can see that we can not agree, but I don't think our opinions matter - what will be, will be.

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    Comment number 5.

    This discussion is very interesting and I wonder if I've got it all wrong, (not for the first time in my life).
    I'm no expert on the subject and I have been playing devil's advocate to some degree, but I am open to other opinions, which raise all sorts of questions.

    I'm particularly intrigued by this statement:
    'It's time some kind of moral code was drawn up around digital models of distribution that wasn't predicated on the whole thing being controlled by an evil, corporate, major label empire (all poppycock, of course.)'

    Who is going to design this code and how will it be implemented?
    Why will people choose to pay for something that is readily available free?

    I don't think many people buy pop videos, but artists spend huge sums of money making them and distribute them freely on youtube etc. and many artists also distribute their music freely.
    Why do they do this and how do these practises work in generating income?

    If the goal posts have moved and the music business has changed, (something I hope we can all agree on) how can artists best adapt to the new world order?

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    Comment number 6.

    This film has some very interesting points on this subject:

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    Comment number 7.

    I wasn't accusing you, which is why I qualified the you (plural, not singular).

    The difference between home taping, and file sharing, is that there had to be more original copies along the 'chain' because 'copies of copies' quickly degenerate in sound quality; digitising music and sharing (nigh on) perfect copies is quick, painless and - because of that - apparently victimless. And, with regards to the last point, it patently isn't.

    So probing my double standards, or otherwise, for a completely different scenario on a completely different (and mostly defunct) format is moot, I think. But I appreciate it's (frequently) part of the armoury or reasons / excuses and justifications posited by file sharers.

    My problem is with *illegal* file sharing. If a band decides to give a song away from their album to promote it / get their name more widely known / spread the love, that is entirely up to them, and a very positive thing to do. If those tracks end up on compilation playlists / seeded by music blogs then brilliant. But the tracks that an artist wants to charge for should be resolutely their domain. It's a no brainer.

    Your analogy to the printing press, and quoting pieces of literature, only works in relation to shorter poems, and probably not even then, in all honesty. I don't ever remember people illegally copying and distributing novels / non fiction in their totality, and with the ease that file sharing allows.

    I do think the world is full of thieves but I'm aware that they don't think of themselves as thieves. This is because a lot of people, many with vested self interests, have helped perpetrate the myth that file sharing is victimless, that only major corporations who can absorb the damage, are effected. Just not true. If more people understood the consequences of these particular actions, the majority who have a well developed sense of right and wrong would stop doing it. It's down to education, and I don't think it's a pipedream to expect this responsibility to be taught in schools in the same way that turning taps off and water conservation are taught.

    I don't agree with you that the "value of recorded music in any format" will continue to fall. I think it's changed due to new methods of distribution, and because of the economic reality of the times we live in, but I don't think it's value is inherently diminishing. It's a fact that prices would be fairer if people didn't illegally file share / distribute music. Just one of the many ramifications of their selfish acts. Those of us who do pay for music (bar the promos I get for work - I still spend more, equivalently, trust me) are subsidising the illegal file-sharers. That's good cause for some (of this) consternation, no?

    People joining our particular discussion on this topic will have missed the long paragraphs that went to and fro on Facebook. You had one of Wales' most respected singers / songwriters, a man with an international reputation and fanbase, challenging every one of the points in your 3rd paragraph (please do not name him - pretty sure he wouldn't want to be dragged into a public debate like this as the 'whining' musician)... but he made it clear that mechanical royalties are key for his band and key for the majority of bands he knows. And, as an internationally touring musician, with many critically lauded (not just by little ol' me) albums behind him I'd trust his take on that point more than yours. The belief that touring is the new black doesn't apply for a large stratum of touring bands who don't fill arenas. They're explicitly the people I'm talking about here.

    Touring - internationally - costs a fortune. It's subsidised, and reliant, on funds generated by music sales. Illegal file sharing undermines that. If you think every band can then become a glorified t-shirt salesman to compensate, you're ignoring the reality that merch is a solution only for certain types of artist playing to certain demographics.

    Your whole argument is a series of feints, shimmies and smokescreens to try and validate / justify the defrauding of fellow artists. I really do not get that. If there was more unity on this issue (in a nutshell, paying for music the artists desire payment for... not exactly advocating 23 breaches of the Geneva Convention) from the musical community as a whole - whilst embracing whichever technological gee gaws you please in the name of progress - the message would be much clearer for the consumers.

    Finally, don't feel affronted by my trying to draw a line in the sand between semi-pro / pro and great / not-so-great artists. It's an important distinction to be made. This model - file sharing - works well for the former, but it undermines the needs of the latter and their ability to make 'great' (not actually all that subjective) recordings.

    I just want to hear great recordings.

    Over and out - but, I suspect, not for the last time ;)

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    Comment number 8.

    Ah, I made my 1st reply to this on my phone, hence the atrocious diction / grammar / spelling etc. Yep, bad workman + tools. If you listen to the show, you'll know the score ;)

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    Comment number 9.

    I understand your point Adam, I was only asking what you propose is done about it?

    You said that you're objection to illegal downloads is that it is stealing and I pointed out that home taping and CD copying is also stealing and I wondered if you had ever been guilty of the same theft that you now accuse others of.
    The excuses for home taping being ok as opposed to downloading are spurious to me - stealing is stealing isn't it?
    Those artists that were home taped did not give permission and anyone who did it is every bit as much a thief as someone downloading music now.
    There were very serious concerns that home taping would kill music, but it didn't stop the practise then, any more than concerns about illegal downloads will stop this practise now.

    I didn't mean to probe your double standards, I genuinely wondered if you had ever copied music to cassette and been a thief by your own description or whether your views have changed.
    I do not mean to attack you personally at all, I'm just trying to see the issues rationally and without recourse to anger or emotion.

    The invention of the printing press caused as much consternation as file sharing on the internet has and I urge you to watch the film in the link above for more details.

    Your idea of teaching kids not to share illegal files at school is interesting and I wonder how effective it will be, given the current state of education in this country.

    Perhaps I am wrong in my assertion that the value of recorded music will continue to fall, but I see no reason to think otherwise given the nature of capitalism and the laws of supply and demand.

    I accept that there are many great bands struggling because of file sharing and I think they need to accept this situation and make the best from it rather than wishing for a return to the old ways, while bemoaning the new.

    I am not personally affronted by anything you have said and I admire your passion and desire for a fairer world.
    Indeed I share that passion and I don't actually disagree with you on a fundamental level.

    My approach is more one of acceptance than yours - the world isn't fair so how can we make the best of it.
    I would like to see more positive ways of using new technology as in some of the links I have provided, rather than the moral outrage that often accompanies the debate, with no suggestions for a solution.

    I would welcome some rational response to my questions posted above and which I will repeat here:

    Who is going to design this [new moral] code and how will it be implemented?
    Why will people choose to pay for something that is readily available free?

    I don't think many people buy pop videos, but artists spend huge sums of money making them and distribute them freely on youtube etc. and many artists also distribute their music freely.
    Why do they do this and how do these practises work in generating income?

    If the goal posts have moved and the music business has changed, (something I hope we can all agree on) how can artists best adapt to the new world order?

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    Comment number 10.

    Very interesting points made by all concerned. My point may seem a bit tangential but i believe it is closely linked to Adams point, it just happens much earlier in the life cycle of a band.
    i'm curious to know what people think about revenue generated from live music? Being in a band from cardiff, spending hours each week outside of our 9 to 5 grind, writing and rehearsing songs, which slowly improve with time etc etc. over 2 years we've written over 2 hours of original music (it's not all great but there's 4 or 5 tunes we're really proud of and many more that aren't so bad...).
    We're often asked to play sets of over 90 minutes in length, 2 or 3 times a month. For this reason we are considered moderately popular amongst our peers.
    Our sets mainly consist of our aforementioned songs.
    In effect we are performing a double album's worth of material live, numerous times every month, as well as transporting amps, guitars, drum kits and ourselves to and from the venues we play at.
    we pay rent every month for our practice space which we share with other hardworking amatuer bands. I guess anyone who's ever played in a band knows what i'm on about, labour of love and all that jazz, and yet we get paid rarely more than 150 quid per gig, sometimes less, sometimes more. 150 bucks between , in our case, 6 people, for 1 and a half hours work on the night, not counting the hours spent writing the songs, the hours spent rehearsing the songs (4 a week, every week), the time it takes for us all to travel, the time it takes to set up, the waiting time, the packing away time etc. nor counting the rent, the petrol etc.. it's not much.
    Promotors and venues are ripping off bands massively, people who are meant to 'promote' music are in fact strangling bands before they even have the chance to be stolen from by downloaders and the like. Bands themselves place little value on all the hard work they do, often thinking that until you have a recorded product/song to be played on the radio or online then you don't deserve any recompense for the effort it took to write those songs.
    as a result of this bands are often duped into playing for free, because there's a promise of 'exposure' or a 'big crowd'. you are made to feel like your missing out, or that you're stingy just by saying sorry we can't afford to play for free.
    luckily the digital revolution has made recording music much cheaper. I know that to an extent that means a lot more band music gets recorded and it makes the good stuff harder to find (but also makes it all the more precious when it is found maybe?) but if you are a live, flesh and blood, gigging but unsigned band, worrying about people paying for your recorded output is going to come secondary to paying for your drummers petrol from swansea when you get a 'big gig' in bristol for which the promoter can only offer free drinks....

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    Comment number 11.

    I'm supposed to be buying milk.

    No one I ever met had a music collection compromising, in the majority, of stolen taped music. I know many many people who've bought hardly any music in the last decade, but still own thousands of tracks from that period. Honestly, I don't think they're equivalent technologies / equable 'crimes'.

    I installed Soulseek to see what the fuss was about. Downloaded the Everley Brothers 'Bowling Green' and Axel 'F', and that was it, 10 years (ish) ago and I've paid for every download ever since.

    With regards education, my daughter comes in and turns the tap off when I'm cleaning my teeth. She goes to a bog standard city centre primary school. The education / values that school imparts seem pretty good to me.

    Supply and demand are very much key to this argument. The demand is as great as it has ever been, monetising some strands of the supply chain is the challenge. No reason that can't happen for the benefit of the artists, I don't think. Well, no reason other than the universal sense of entitlement to free music that has become all pervasive.

    Some of your (and not just your, but the general attitude towards bands who criticise this state of affairs) language is interesting. Is reparation for a skill now a thing of the past? Is raising the issue, especially now the situation has become critical for many of these artists, "moaning"? And - to be fair to them - it's me doing the moaning. The attitude amongst the bands seems to be one of resigned, but stoic, acceptance. But their giving up is the real catalyst behind my torrent(s) [ahem] on the subject. I don't want my favourite artists to dwindle due to what I see as being a fundamental simple issue: pay for what you listen to.

    I'm not advocating lawsuits, digitally watermarked promos, ISP's filtering / stopping torrents or anything like that. I'm trying - in my miniscule way - to raise awareness of the effect these actions are having on artists. Not all artists, admittedly, but definitely those in that lower - middle swathe.

    To answer your questions:

    1) it's not a new moral code. It's the code we apply to all other transactions. Music shouldn't be disqualified from that because it's easy to steal it. If people understood more clearly the effect that file sharing has on artists, more would understand the importance of paying for it. And it'd help if other artists acknowledged that responsibility, and a general fug of obfuscation wasn't used to obscure the basic point that people out there are stealing. And stealing is wrong, whichever way you try to dress it up.

    2) I've no idea why you bring videos up as if they're a separate entity / consideration. Originally they were promos to direct people to the sonic artefacts. Nowadays people buy them (or not, as the case may be) to enjoy on their computers / phones / tablets, whatever. Many artists distribute the videos freely and seed 1 or 2 tracks off their albums to advertise the full album / EP release. Which they charge for... generating income.

    3) it's not just about artists adapting to the 'new world order'. It's as much about the audience adapting too. Apologists for illegal downloading are just moving many great bands towards a cliff edge they might otherwise avoid if knowledge of the wrongness and repercussions of illegal file sharing was distributed as widely, freely and with as much enthusiasm and pride as the music itself.

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    Comment number 12.

    'comprising' - obviously. 10 minutes till milk shop shuts!

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    Comment number 13.

    Sweetspots - I know exactly what you mean because my band is in the same position.
    And it's nothing new, I would have given up long ago if I did it for the money.
    We were recently dropped by an agency when they found out we don't do covers.
    I'm quietly relieved, but without those paying gigs we couldn't fund our album and get it played on the radio, (still a buzz after all these years).

    Adam, you are right that many musicians, (myself included) are resigned to a stoic acceptance of illegal downloads.
    The debate has moved on for many musicians to the discussion of how to adapt and survive.
    I know of no one in the business who seriously thinks illegal downloads will stop.
    Many musicians and companies are looking at positive ways in which the internet and file sharing can be used to raise their profile and increase revenue.

    I asked about pop videos because I didn't know why so much is spent on them and I thank you for the explanation that they are made to promote CD sales and that some people buy them too.
    I'm genuinely surprised that they sell enough CDs to cover the cost of the videos.

    I suppose I was an apologist for illegal downloading and now I feel bad for 'just moving many great bands towards a cliff edge'.

    So I've decided to swap sides - you've convinced me Adam - so what next ?

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    Comment number 14.

    Lobby the Assembly to make this part of the social responsibility side of the curriculum.

    I'm serious.

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    Comment number 15.

    Hello Sweet Spots - your experience does rather undermine the belief that artists can turn to live music as a replacement for lost mechanical earnings (because the scenario you describe is familiar to many original bands, at different levels of experience). But with many small to medium venues going to the wall, and the prospect of another recession looming, promoters / venue owners & breweries are squeezed between a pillar and a post and finding it incredibly hard to survive. While these austere times continue and there are bands out there happy to be exploited, the situation is unlikely to change.

    As Tacsi mentioned somewhere above (or maybe on the Facebook discussion that was a precursor to this) try and make the most of the gigs you do do by having things to sell with you. If you're at that stage, that is. It mightn't cover your costs, but it'll take the sting out of some of the expenses.

    Hard times. But hard times generally breed great music.

    I also agree with your point about there being more music being recorded now than ever before. It does make it more difficult to find the great stuff. That task will become exponentially more difficult if every one has to function on a level(ish) playing field (i.e. recording everything at home on a laptop.)

    You can do amazing things with a laptop, some good software, a half decent mic and some brilliant ears. But recording a band at a comparable quality to, say (because it's timely today) 'Nevermind' isn't one of them. And I would bemoan that loss of quality, for sure.

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    Comment number 16.

    Sweet Spots - I forgot to mention that you can receive PRS payments for live performances if you log them and the venue is licensed.
    It's not much for pubs - about a tenner I think, but it goes up considerably if you play bigger venues or festivals.
    And of course you get PRS payments for airplay on the radio - about £1.00 a minute on radio Wales and about £15 a minute on national radio one I think.
    Much more for TV and film of course - try writing the theme for neighbours if you want to make serious money.

    Back on the file sharing issue - I still can't see how it can be stopped.
    If people know they can steal something freely rather than pay for it, then they will do so - as shown by the looters during the London riots.
    It's wrong and it's easy to stand in judgement as if we are above such behaviour, but maybe if we lived in the same environment and had the same experiences as these thieves, we would be just like them.
    They don't care that it's wrong and they don't care about the cabinet maker, they just care about themselves and is it really surprising, given the state of society these days?

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    Comment number 17.

    I really love your article Adam. Your point is strong and true, but from one narrow perspective. You appear to have done what everyone does when writing from the music business, sorry, artist's angle on this issue.

    You've actually inspired me to write an article about this too fore which I must thank you, I haven't written in years. I'll publish that later. In short form though, I think this quote from Malcolm X may help.

    "If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing".

    The artists have historically been stuffed by the labels, and the people have historically rebelled against those who present themselves as the establishment, in this case the labels. If the only conduit to the artists wallet was the label, then that relationship has been well and truly spoilt in both directions by the industry itself.

    When the internet emerged onto the mainstream circa 1995 the industry failed to grasp it's potential, whilst alienating it's listeners by sending in the RIAA, and it's artists, by simply not carrying their music into the new market place, and continuing to pay them a pittance of the £13 sale price for a CD. Meanwhile it made sure it profited from the piracy this new network enabled by selling into that market the necessary hardware, blank CD's, CD burners and Printers.

    Now you're blaming the listener? Do you also believe that every download is a lost sale too.

    Record sales are down, lots of sales are own. Culture has evolved more quickly since 1995 than it probably had done since WWII. You've got to stop worrying and learn to love the future, because it's already here,and it's not that bad really.

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    Comment number 18.

    ... and a quick note on independent record shops if I may.

    Independents like Spillers, continued to provide high quality point of sale experience, a deck to listen to stuff on, and friendly staff who are music lovers. These stores where independent from the shady business practices of the majors players as just described. Prices where similar, but the quality of experience is the stuff of memory and legend. (probably why there's only one major store in Cardiff and Spillers is still with us after over 100yrs).

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Hello Badger. Thanks for commenting. It's a narrower perspective than even you say: it's from the point of view of the artist. I'd be surprised if any of the labels I support / talk about by inference above, have anything other than the best interests of their artists at heart.

    I think demonising an industry that hardly exists anymore is just another smokescreen to try and obscure the main, simple point: there is no justification for stealing music. Two wrongs, and all that...

    You're absolutely right with regards to the rapid evolution of these technologies, and how it's taking everyone time to adapt to them.

    But all this talk of embracing the future is all well and good, however a future stripped of some of our most interesting bands isn't a future I can look forward to with a lot of enthusiasm.

    I only ever use independent record shops. They're some of the most wonderful and hallowed places in the country. I love them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Adam, can you name some of the most interesting bands that we are losing due to illegal downloads, so we can support them as much as possible.
    Why should these bands have to hide their plight and be forced out of the business without a fight?
    Perhaps you can use part of your show to highlight their problems and urge your listeners to lobby the Assembly to make this part of the social responsibility side of the curriculum.

    Apologies if you are already doing these things and respect to you for standing up against this evil tide that is destroying all we hold dear.
    I still have the 'Home Taping Is Killing Music' sticker on my guitar case from the 80s and when I think of all the great bands that we are losing to these internet parasites, it just makes me sick.


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