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Re: [microsound] the culture industry

i guess my previous 4 pager on sunn/boris/filesharing didn't get through. bummer. so here's the rewrite from memory, always diluted and out of itself...

i agree with the statement that if people pay for things they value, and music has become self-parodistic and devalued, and perhaps always was "junk" to people, but they never had the technological option to obtain it for free aside from stuffing LPs in their shirt. now such a reality exists, and i don't think it's necessarily detrimental to the record industry, if only they knew how to react to it and harness the distributive and promotional power it possesses. basically, if they offered a decent product with some credibility and value, people would be fine with paying for it. there are plenty of labels i respect and pay for--i've spent hundreds with captain trip, for example. they are convincing to me. all this crass myspace-cultured stuff that's in stores and on the internet today is inherently degrading to appreciation of the music, has no standards, and will ultimately result in achieving only turning what may be worthwhile art into widely available junk. it's become very easy to obtain and listen to, and everyone can and does make it, it's cheap. and that's not inherently a bad thing, necessarily, it's just the reality, and astute artists understand it and act accordingly.

however--i feel that many of those people who pay for music don't *actually* value it, but rather *want* to value it, so they go to fair levels of absurdity to convince themselves of the power of their actions, but eventually are inevitably left unsatisfied with that novelty, and fail to see the content for what it is. case in point: the southern lord record label's ridiculously limited vinyl releases, which is basically price gouging and offering a product with diminished quality (colored/clear vinyl, digital mastering, and probably digitally recorded as well). there are always the extremist reactionaries in society, as we all know, and the reactions to music filesharing are just as deluded as the file sharers themselves are often perceived as. the truth is, filesharing is a tool that exists and will for the forseeable future, and i think labels like southern lord would never have reached international prominence and acclaim (article in new york times, etc) or their current high level of sales without it. i'm pretty sure they understand this, and take advantage of it, and secondly, they (geniusly, if not illegitimately as far as art is concerned) take advantage of the reactionaries on the other side of the file sharing coin, by restricting the editions of LPs and convincing people they are "art objects" for the purpose of gouging the price and gaining large profits there. the true consumer of art only accepts what is legitimate as a medium of art (one that puts the content at the fore and presents it in the best light possible, rather than cheapening it through wanton business), and should also be entitled to using technological tools for the purpose of obtaining information and developing a stronger worldview--something i feel is the prerogative of the modern consumer. however, i think care should be taken to avoid the opposite extreme, and feeling that only pure paid consumption is the answer to appreciating music and supporting it--in a way, you're advocating and perpetuating business practices that are detrimental to the content, and ensuring that future releases will be even more superficial from that label, in addition to tricking yourself into thinking the music is something different than what it is.

the problem i have with southern lord is that the business aspect for me ruins the credibility of what purports to be outsider extreme music, which it clearly is sonically, but business-wise it's turned into a total sensation every dumb midwestern kid is going crazy over on ebay, which comes into conflict with the purported belief as i understand it that what should be the focus is the music, not the object or the price or scarcity. unfortunately, stephen o'malley is a worldly man, and i feel the music on his label suffers because of it. admittedly, southern lord has a great roster--the grief reissues were excellent, but i would never give my money to southern lord. this is politics, no?

see, the thing is, southern lord is (i think) attempting to achieve artistic standards, and that becomes problematic for me when that clashes with their otherwise mainstream/exploitative business policies. on the other hand, it makes sense for a group like metallica to possess mainstream business policies on filesharing, since their music isn't anything but mainstream, and they aren't purporting to offer anything aside from pure mainstream product by being on a major label, so at least their logic is consistent--i can't say as much about southern lord. as for labels like autofact, they're basically stealing from the artist, so the only thing keeping southern lord legal is that they actually pay the artists, which is another genius move, because it allows them to live for another round of limited vinyls to rake in the cash at the expense of some wealthy and confused teenagers seeking to obtain something they perceive as real in the face of fakeness. not so simple, unfortunately.

bottom line is that consumers have the power, and if people in the country said "no" to bad business practices in any market, those practices would no longer be viable and the businesses would be forced to change. unfortunately, people buy into things without thinking about them a whole lot in america, and the result is the sort of value system that's in place today. once again, though, i don't think it's really changed in fundamental character in a long time, it's just more apparent how retarded it actually is now that things are as blatant as they are, and the things technology has made possible.

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