Punk legend Billy Bragg spoke with Christine Smallwood at The Nation shortly after he published this op-ed in the NYT about social networking sites profiting off of artists’ music without paying the artists any royalties.
In the NYT piece Bragg actually answers the question I posed in my Prince-Radiohead post about why an artist or label would have something against Web 2.0 sites providing a platform for users to watch and discuss an artist:
The claim that sites such as MySpace and Bebo are doing us a favor by promoting our work is disingenuous. Radio stations also promote our work, but they pay us a royalty that recognizes our contribution to their business. Why should that not apply to the Internet, too?
A good point from an awesome man. Here’s one of the highlights from his interview with The Nation:
Christ knows there’s more competition now than there ever was for people to love music. By constantly wagging a finger at them, telling them they’re doing something illegal–well, since the 1980s more has become illegal. Back in the old days of vinyl the British music industry used to print on the inner bag of albums a logo, a cassette with crossbones underneath it, that said, Home Taping Is Killing Music. How ridiculous is that? Capitalism is killing music, and I went so far as to print that on the cover of Workers Playtime (1988). The industry has long tried to blame the consumer for its own shortcomings. My concern is that a new generation will come along who won’t be able to do what I do, which is make a decent living doing what they love doing. If we don’t protect individuality and the possibility of individuality, all the music will originate in the corporations. We’ll get Hannah Montana forever. A band like Radiohead or Björk or Sigur Rós will never get out there. That’s ultimately what’s at stake, the music to come. It behooves us older artists to make that point and make a stand. We have a voice and a platform.
And here’s my favorite Billy Bragg song ever.