Every day it seems like something new comes along to crush the spirits of artists, young and old. Today, it's Google's new YouTube based music service, Music Key, and the dangerous anti-competitive paradigm that it presents. As an artist who rarely has to worry about a massive corporation placing restrictions on his income (mostly because I barely have an income), the precedent that the Music Key restrictions set, while seemingly innocuous, are still daunting. We are no longer living in a convenient store suicide mixture of hard sci-fi dystopia. We aren't just mindlessly plugging into an online reality where we ignore the brutal reality that exists around us and bicker amongst ourselves about terminally unimportant issues (new Ghostbusters, Kardashian butts, etc). As someone who occasionally makes a living off of the arts, the world is now a horror film, and corporations are the boogeymen slowly creeping into our peripheral. Run as fast as you can, but they'll catch you eventually.
Reading Zoë Keating's account of her dealings with the Google-YouTube rep isn't surprising, but it is depressing. Record companies and management teams have been trying to put the kibosh on an artist's freedom for… I don't know, let's say 100 years. That sounds about right. But as recently as a few years ago, an artist could still make something off of their work. Specifically musicians. I've had the pleasure of making records and sharing the stage with friends for across the world, and even if there wasn't a record contract involved you could still make a song, play it in front of people, put it online, and make a connection. The Music Key deal seems to be solely created to squash that kind of artist/fan interaction. Or at least make a profit off of it. When the Ramones played their three chord, leather jacket pop, everyone that had the luxury to see them said, "I can do that." Thanks to Google, you can still do it - but it'll cost you.
Corporations had long ago found a way to either monetize or eradicate every other form of art. They took film away from artists and made it into a cyclical nightmare of reboots and cartoons. Literature, photography, painting, abstract expressionism - those have all be locked behind the doors of academia and only those with the correct pedigree, or profitable back story are allowed to enter. The rest of us peak through the keyhole, salivating at the chance of an "attaboy" and the checking account that comes along with it. I'm glad that music has finally been caged, and I'm surprised that it took so long.
I'm sure that in a year or two a streaming service will come along with slightly better residuals and the artists will rejoice. Poets will throw down their shackles and pen soliloquies upon being able to stream the Crass discography in 320 KPBs. There will be a short film made by a collective of homeless Danish teens of a family downloading Fritz Lang's "M" in high def. Then there will be an advertisement for Buffalo WIld Wings in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, we will hear Steve Ignorant sing, "Do they owe us boneless wings? Of course they do." The poet will conceal a series of SEO keywords to his hit haiku chapbook.
Obviously this is a dangerous precedent that should be examined by the Federal Trade Commission. I'm writing the FTC the ask them to look into this matter and you should to. They supposedly read emails sent to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I plan on writing my email in the form of a Shakespearian sonnet:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments, art is not advertisement.
etc etc etc