The Hand That Feeds: Blogs vs Government

For about  a week the Hip Hop entertainment and online community has been abuzz about the recent shut down of 3 Hip Hop sites.  A lot of theories have been thrown around regarding what this means for blogs and internet sites in the future, the business of music, and the government involvement in what we can see and hear.  This may be hard to accept, but I think it’s true.

Blogs are disposable.  That means, this is not a big deal.

Do you watch Boardwalk Empire?  I could only dig 4-5 episodes until I grew tired of it, but the show teaches a lesson.  It’s about 1920’s Atlantic City during Prohibition, when the sale and consumption of alcohol was illegal.  One person, Nucky Thompson, kept the importing of alcohol (and other illegal activities) alive in Atlantic City, as long as he got his percentage of the money being generated.  His brother was part of the police force and kept an ear to the street to enforce Nucky’s brand of law.  Nucky had friends in high places.  It’s all about  who gets their cut, who gets cut out, and who gets cut up.   While the show is slow moving to me, it taught me a very valuable lesson…

If the main people in charge can’t get their cut, or you lessen their cut, they will do what they can to remove you from the equation.

The RIAA gang is reppin their set.  You came and took money from their block.  If you’re not gonna give up a cut, then you’re gonna get moved on, by all means necessary.

Come on guys.  This isn’t surprising.  Remember all those regular people who got sued for downloading music?  There were 6 other blogs that were shut down by Google earlier this year.

Napster came and changed the game.  But where are they now?  Audio Galaxy.  Kazaa.  Lime Wire.  Do you see them really thriving anymore?  Remember how many false mp3s would be on them?  How slow your computer got?  Viruses?

Don’t give me that “But they don’t host the files, the songs are on other sites!”

Remember AlbumBase.com?  It was heaven.  You could look up virtually ANYTHING and there would be a link to find it on RapidShare, MegaUpload, Mediafire, or whatever else.  One day, on my routine stop there, I got the “This website doesn’t exist anymore” message on my browser.  I looked around The Net to find out what happened, and supposedly feds came in suits and boxes to Albumbase’s headquarters, and that was that.  The “We don’t host the files ourselves” argument doesn’t work.  And once your regular audience finds out you’re gone, it’s on to the next one.

Industry rule number Four Thousand and Eighty

Record company people are shady. -Q-Tip

OnSmash and the rest of them got songs from the labels.  Then they got shut down.  But they didn’t leak albums, and when hit with the Cease & Desist letters they complied, right?  Well why did they get shut down?

Remember who feeds who.  Whether it’s the artist or label, blogs are receiving content from someone else usually.  Then the blogs are probably given some pennies to do their PR work for artists.  Hell, some PR people prolly got paid just to email the blogs to tell them to post tracks.  In return,  bloggers get to look cooler, or have a few more folks wanna buy ad space on the site.  Meanwhile, as blogs do the work promoting, the labels and RIAA are still lobbying to get rid of them.  Why?  Because the more that you are the middleman, controlling and influencing the audience, or the fact that one could have downloaded half of an album for free, that’s money lost.  They can’t keep that revenue model going, because the longer it exists, the more people will catch on.  Then, that increases the amount of people unwilling to buy music, which then completely shuts down the industry for good.

Why send a bunch of cease and desist letters when they could just snitch to Homeland Security, and let you do their viral work for them until you’re gone.  Nobody really values the guy with the bootleg DVDs, they value the DVDS.   No one really values blog sites aside from the music they give for free.  Otherwise, what else do people go there for?  For the blog owners themselves?  Not really.

Bloggers- You got into some events for free.  You got to kick it with some stars.  But really, bloggers are the lowest on the totem pole.  Artists get dropped all the time from labels.  You think you matter that much to the label themselves?  They got you comfy just enough to rub you out.  Welcome to the Prohibition era.

Labels feed the blogs, blogs feed the streets, streets feed the labels.  But if the Industry sees less food on their plate, and the  blogs are the reason, that same hand that feeds will strike them down.  Or better yet, that hand will be drawn back and won’t pull the blogs out the quicksand.  And as much as the streets complain, they’re just looking for their next meal.

You may say all you want about sites complying to copyright laws, but a lot of artists aren’t, which is part of the problem.  Artists will do “remixes” of tracks, rap  and sing over someone else’s beat (a beat the record label owns by the way), and then try to build their buzz and career off that.  The track may be available for free, it may seem harmless, but the law prohibits doing that without permission.  And usually getting permission means coming with a contract and money.  Well guess what?  Lil XYZ has a “remix” of him spitting over a Kanye beat on your site, for free download.  Guess who the fuzz is coming after?

Aside from maybe Arianna Huffington and other bloggers who contribute to news sources and have TV shows, no other blogger I know of is certifiably a millionaire.  Just about every blogger has a day job, and bringing the content to the audience is really a hobby, and extra revenue (IF they get that).  We can argue about going viral and such, but really, blogs are disposable.  Half the reason why, is because when one site shuts down, another one pops up.  When one site posts content, 10 others link to it.  Links get passed around everywhere.  There is no lack of access to the material.

But if you know me, you know how I feel about the industry.  In the end, I don’t think they’re really going to win at this point.

If blogs are getting letters from reps at labels asking for help and C&D letters from them at the same time, why aren’t they exposing them?  Giving you content, then telling you to remove it, is a sign itself.  If you see less and less artists coming to your aid, then why don’t you stop posting their music and honoring their requests?  Why don’t the blogs (because there’s really only a handful of truly popular ones) get together, and compare notes as to who’s been contacting you askin for help?  The people you share in common may be your greatest allies…or maybe even the actual snitches.

This has been existing for about 11 years now, pretty much without fail.  One site goes down, another pops up.  And once a site reaches a level of critical mass, it shuts down.  It’s all a wack-a-mole game.

But  if China can hijack the U.S. Internet and no one notices, guess what?  Homeland Security is gonna really keep an eye on us all now.  Did you know  a group of hackers took the RIAA & MPAA offline a few months ago?

For bloggers and artists alike, it ain’t stealing if you don’t get caught, right?  But, I think if you really want to win this game, I suggest you get hip to copyright law, and start gettin creative and original.

They got Cypress Hill 15 years later.

Oh yes.  They want their money.

And they’re gonna go through with a fine toothed comb to get every penny.

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4 comments

  • 12/07/2010 at 1:01 pm //

    This is the first time I’ve been speechless after a Blog Post . Speechless . The Old Ways are obsolete . It’s time to re-tune our Inner Dials .

  • Well done sir! I like the prohibition angle. It is going to be interesting to see how this all works out in the end.

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