I heard a leading novelist asked where he got the ideas for his books. He said that he kept a journal and wrote down every detail of his life. He’d keep a very precise account of what he did every day and what he thought every day and then one day he began to lie. And he’d lie a little more and a little more and then one day he was writing his next work of fiction.
I remember attending a policy conference in DC a few years ago with a friend of mine who also has a long history in the not so new “new media” side of the music business. The keynote was given by yet another self-appointed authority on our business. After the first 50 words or so, I said, that’s a lie. My friend nodded. Another 50 words and he said, that’s another lie. I nodded. Another 50 words and we looked at each other. This work of fiction wasn’t going to be a best seller. “Coffee?” I asked. Snide? Yes. But it was so early in the morning to stomach all the mistakes.
Later that day one of the open source academics (I think his name was Eben) spoke with the naive arrogance of someone who thinks he has figured out the music business with insufficient (or no) study. When confronted with the problems of getting permission from rights holders, he said it would be simple because we are all on the Internet. This is, of course, laughable. I pointed out to him that he must have never cleared samples for a rap record. Blank looks. And then he said that artists losing income from illegal file bartering would have nothing to complain of because they could just sell another t-shirt.
Of course this has nothing to do with songwriters who just write songs, and is one of the mistakes about the ecostructure of the music business that has been answered so many times that the continued restating of it by those who should know better becomes demonstrably willful ignorance.
So it is with authors. Like songwriters, authors only have their books, the lucky ones might sell some ancillary rights–to paraphrase the professor, the authors losing their ability to sustain themselves need only make another movie from their books.
Michelle Gagnon has an excellent post on The Kill Zone that describes first hand what authors are now enduring in the name of innovation. This stark picture of life as an author tells the story of how writers are now suffering the same fate as songwriters. The alarming tale will no doubt bring joy to the heart of the AmeriKat and the EFFluviati. As Fred von Lohman said, “Artists will just have to learn to get along on less money.”
All in the name of “innovation”. Aren’t we lucky.