Thursday, October 18, 2012

Copy Spotify, and Be a Pirate!

Spotify is attempting to corner the digital music market of the app-future with their unique system of adds. But you can't enjoy it without a dash of propaganda every hour or so. With happy hipster music ding-donging in the background, a frequent self-serving commercial Spotify plays between songs declares, “Piracy is so last year. Every time you listen to music on Spotify, you make money for the rights-holders and artists.”

Sure. Then stop pirating the music, Spotify. 

Their own choice of words betrays them. Downloading songs and digital media from the internet is no more an act of piracy than creating mix CDs for friends and lovers (and for those of us old enough, making mix-tapes in the '80s and mid-'90s) or copying some full length albums from your local public library. 

The creators of Napster (the original one), Pirate Bay and Mega-upload should be given medals of honor for liberating music and digital works of art. Instead, most governments around the world, especially the US Empire, treat them like armed and dangerous thugs hell-bent on ruling the world. (Irony?) 

Douche-wipes like Metallica's Lars and Madonna don't create art because the act of creation is an end in itself, but because they want to make millions of dollars. Which is fine. But they also support copyright "infringement" laws that not only stifle and criminalize various acts of creativity, but throw innocent young people--namely, their fans--in prison for "stealing" their music. 

The documentary Copyright Criminals makes a brilliant case against asshole celebrities and recording studio executives who want to crush the spontaneity of the true music market, demonstrating how, were the current copyright laws that exist today employed 20-30 years ago, we would have no Snoop-Dogg, no Dr. Dre, no Beastie Boys and no Run-DMC (among countless other successful artists). Or, they would have been forced to play and create their music underground. Which is exactly what is happening today to hundreds of artists who refuse to comply with regulatory copyright infringement standards. 

Spotify found a legal way (for now) to stream endless amounts of music with the support of the recording companies (who share a very high degree of responsibility for writing the current copyright laws in place today). 

And guess how!  Because Spotify doesn't pay dick to the artists. As this article points out, each musical artist on Spotify makes about four tenths of one cent per stream. (Thus, for example, Spotify paid Lady Gaga a whopping $167 bucks when fans streamed her "Poker Face" hit one millions times.) 

Can you own a sound? A piece of information? A line of poetry? An image? 

Following the logic of "intellectual property rights" enthusiasts, you could argue that every human being alive should be forced to pay an annual tax to a general "art fund" run by government bureaucrats and politicians. Why? Because there is no such thing, you see, as an original idea (or score of music or painting or drawing or sexual position in the bedroom). Everything is derivative of former artists. And, as our dearest Supreme Overlord never fails to remind us, "you didn't build that" alone!  All artists, in one way or another, have been supported by the all-powerful, glorious nation-state. Thus, all living and future artists (if they wish to be granted approval as artists), should be forced to pay tax to the national art fund, which will then--our leaders shall promise us--be used solely for the purpose of supporting the arts. 

Too selfish to pay your fair share? Well, then, fuck you. You will not be granted an artist license. 

This idea is not my own, but a real proposal I read by a contributor to American Poetry Review several months ago. (Unfortunately, I can't find the exact article online for the moment.) 

America hasn't reached that Third Reich-ish point yet. (Though many cities are doing one hell of an efficient job pushing us in that direction!)

So how do we push back against the online art police? How do we celebrate the act of creation without taxation, fines, police, jails and prisons? 

Simply copy the tactics of Spotify, only do a better job of it. Do what you've always done since the early 2000s. Download music wherever you can find it and then give it to your friends. Spread the love. Support the artists by going to their shows or, shit, mail them a fucking check. That way, you can still support the artists without supporting the recording industry and talentless douche-wipes like Madonna who lobby politicians to write laws that criminalize creativity, creating nothing of artistic value but new policing agencies with real police officers who will come and throw your teenage sibling in prison for downloading the latest shitty Metallica single.  

Even if we lack the resources (as of now) to force politicians, the art police and recording executives to walk the plank, we can still use digital guerrilla tactics to plunder their infrastructure and cannon their legal frameworks. There's no reason to obey their  laws. And we should break them whenever possible. Spotify is only attempting to monopolize the "piracy" with the support of the recording industry.  They don't deserve all the fun. 

Here's a Pennywise song streamed through the new Spotify play button that summarizes the appropriate attitude I would recommend taking towards Spotify's own hypocrisy.    

Cheers! (I mean, Arrrgghhhhh!)

My Own Country, 

By Pennywise. 

Fools run the government
Sick foreign policy
Their words sound valiant but their hands are green
Unending quest for power
Taxes that make us slaves
Don't believe a word of it
Ignore the fucked up things they say

I'm gonna make it on my own
Dictator on a throne
Make my own philosophy
U.S. of me
A citizen who's really pissed
United Anarchists
Give me death or liberty
I am my own country
United States Confederate of Me

Old whigs in parliament
Play bedroom politics
Salacious stories make them look obscene
Spin on your nemesis
Fill up the news today
Don't believe a word of it
Ignore the fucked up things they say

Its all me
No secret police 

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