In response to calls to “Stop The Wall,” PIPA, SOPA, and the great
Internet blackout of 2012, we are witnessing the brainwashing of a
generation.

The Internet and democratization of information is remarkable and
revolutionary. Those early visionaries and adopters that harnessed the
power of the internet to establish new forms of distribution and
community have profited immensely. Rightly so as pioneers they took
the necessary balance of risk. vision, and execution in what has been
a necessary transition into the dawn of a new information age. In due
process there will not be one good, service, or industry that will not
be touched by the power of the Internet.

But with great change does come great responsibility.

The Internet has been generally misunderstood and its power has
generally profited those whose businesses revolve around the selling of
advertising against the distribution of free content.

Let’s be clear on the definition of free. Pandora streams music
which appears to be free but actually is not. Through a simple subscription
model or brand advertising they offer users the appearance of free
music, when in fact they are paying the necessary artists unions or
governing bodies in return. These governing bodies and unions are able
to compensate the appropriate recording artist – a model similar to how
radio operates.

Many today believe that content should be free. This free content
should not be measured on its merits in terms of units sold and best
sellers lists, but rather social capital. The content with the most
hash tags wins, or the more likes the better, or the ultimate online
popularity contest for what? For the winner there is no Grammy,
platinum record, Oscar, or even world tour. Just some simple web cred
that has the monetary value as yesterdays movie ticket. There are also
calls that “art” is to be edited, copied, pasted, reformatted,
reprinted, remixed, rerecorded, and changed to allow the next person
to make better with no representation, credit, or monies due or
exchanged.

Who supports these beliefs?  Unsurprisingly,  the very people that have already built
their fortunes on pioneering the internet and structuring entire
businesses on the distribution of free content. These very same people
are preaching to the young impressionable masses who have sucked from
the nipple of Google that big bad media companies want to shut
down and censor the internet. The amount of analogies that come to
mind are staggering….

The so-called big bad media companies exist for one reason: to make
sure that people who make art happen get paid,  from the
janitor cleaning the sound stage, to the sound mixer, to the graphic
designer of the film poster. Here is the best part, if a studio makes
a flop, those people still get paid and the studio takes the loss.
Here is another twist, though a patriotic one. The West’s most vital
weapon is its culture. Even today the likes of the Beatles, Marilyn
Monroe, and The Great Gatsby are our most powerful form of propaganda
and defense to the world. “The American Dream” was born out of the
gold paved roads of Hollywood and distributed by the exact same big
bad media companies being attacked today by the online community.
These artists faced adversity every step of the way and it took
support, money, and teh complex infrastructure of large corporations
to make sure that their talented voices were heard.

Why if it works for Pandora can it not work for everyone else? Why if
it can work for Itunes can it not work for Google? Google can tell me
how many time the word fart was searched in Angola in the last five
minutes but it cannot tell me how many times a song was played on
YouTube? Pirate Bay brings in thousands of dollars of advertising
dollars yet it cannot cut a deal with the RIAA?

Content is not free to create, thus it should not be free to
distribute. There are sophisticated systems in place, unions, and
associations that exist to compensate artists and the people that help
bring their imaginations to life. If users are willing to consume
advertising for free content – then it is up to the providers.
Declaring that all content should be free is unscalable and
unsustainable.

Just close your eyes and imagine 50 years of free content…..

I asked a fellow gentleman of 25 years “what was the single most
talented work to spawn from the Internet?” with excitement and glee he
responded assuming that there was no argument to be had, “Justin
Bieber” not understanding the look on my face he added “He has an
excellent voice and can play guitar.”

All I can think is that it is OK. This person simply holds his
standard of music to standards that differ from my own…but of
course for him content is free, disposable, and fleeting. For me
listening to Jimi Hendrix on vinyl is permanent, lasting, and
incendiary.

Fingers crossed that the next great artist is playing at your local bar, as
they only way they’ll be able to survive is through tips – it’s Paris
fin de siecle all over again.