The map is not the terrain

free from copyright in the name of the dream

Those who’ve followed the career of the Artist formerly known as the Artist formerly known as Prince will probably find it no surprise that he’s right there pushing on the bounds of the music business. Wired’s Eliot Van Buskirk deconstructs the recent hubbub around Prince’s deal to distribute free CDs to those who buy a special edition of the July 15 Mail on Sunday newspaper or attend one of his UK shows. In retaliation, his label Sony/BMG has refused to distribute the album in Great Britain, and a music industry wag remarked:

…people like (Prince) play a key part in helping figure out what the models may be in the music business of tomorrow, by giving away a whole album on the front of a newspaper, there is a very clear devaluing of music, which is not a positive message to send out right now.”

Buskirk points out that Prince will probably rake in millions from his “devaluing” end-run around his own label and points out that it’s the copies, not songs, that are becoming worthless in the digital age. After reading Buskirk’s excellent Prince Points the Way to a Brighter Future for Music, I was struck by the immense possibilities for all kinds of artists and media producers to capture more value – not less – from their work.

Rarely when I hunt for a photo do I find one that so elegantly dovetails as this one. It’s titled rosita: free from copyright in the name of the dream and it demonstrates that the wealth to be gained from valuing the art over the copy doesn’t have to be monetary.


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