‘Fair Music: Transparency and Payment Flows in the Music Industry’

The ‘Rethink Music Initiative’ at the Berklee School of Music recently published a study of the contemporary political economy of music (that’s the pdf below, h/t dmf for the link).

There is a great deal to admire in this study. I have been looking for a breakdown of how value is extracted from the circulation of recordings in the digital age and this piece does exactly that. They (rightly, I think) are outraged at how little the artists are compensated for their work in comparison to labels and other copyright-holders. And the Latourian in me is overjoyed at the term ‘black-box’ being used repeatedly to describe the shroud of secrecy surrounding just how exactly the mechanics of payment take place.

Of course they are reformists and reactionaries in a strong sense. Rather than thinking the crisis of value Internet-based distribution inaugurates for the economy of music as an invitation to criticize the capitalist model of exchange, they seek simply to streamline the system in order to make sure that ‘creators’ are ‘fairly compensated.’

Nonetheless, this study is an invaluable contribution to the study of the political economy of music.

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Grungy “Accelerationism”

fascinating essay on the historical relationship between NY radical aesthetics, post-structuralist theory and politics.

Deterritorial Investigations

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At a crucial turn in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, we’re introduced the Panther Moderns – a guerrilla subculture in a world where subcultures flicker by like disconnected frames of some montage film. The Panther Moderns specialize in hallucinatory simulations – in a world dipping into the “consensual hallucination” of cyberspace, they build hallucinations on top of it, subverting a reality that is already subjected to constant reconfiguration through digitalization, genetic body modification, and psychotropic drugs. If cyberpunk, as Lewis Call insists, picks up where Baudrillard’s delirious hysteria over the becoming-simulation, becoming-simulacrum of reality leaves off, figures like the Panther Moderns show the escape route. They embody the old ‘Mao-Dadaist’ slogan of the Autonomists rallied around Radio Alice: “false information produces real events.”

The political ramifications of the Panther Moderns, beyond the literary depiction of our very real world, did not go unnoticed. A group of theory-heads involved with ACT UP…

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The New Economics of the Music Industry

Attali’s Noise needs a new chapter. This new chapter ought to think through today’s political economy of music. Music, it seems, is distributed, produced and disseminated in ways quite different from when Attali was writing in 1978. Changes in the technological means of the production of recording, the production of listening publics and the means of listening mean that the musical commodity has undergone a dramatic shift. Internet-based forms of distribution have changed the musical commodity in kind; tracing out what this means for how value is extracted from music-as-commodity is something I’m keenly interested in and just beginning to think through.

The article below has some interesting research on the mechanics of how this process now takes place; if anyone has any resources on the contemporary political economy of music (specifically on Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Youtube, etc), to share, that would be great!

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-new-economics-of-the-music-industry-20111025

Sound Hacking: Further Reflections on Noise and Noncommunication

‘From this perspective the rhizome of the noisy continuum appears as a contagion (we should not be surprised, then, that dub has been described as just that), a force blossoming at so many ruptures, not as a motor of action but something to be invoked, channeled in one form or another, and injected into the relays of cultural, political, and musical networks. That it becomes enfolded, at so many junctures, into commodity-form is countered by the fact that it appears to be perpetually pushing onward, evading capture by changing its mold despite the encompassing of differences across the terrain of the market, driven by its own delirious rhizomatics. The image of the rhizome has come to stand in for infinite circuits of communication in an ever-expanding space. Such language is precisely that of Empire, with its drive not own towards limitless commodification but also connectability. The rhizomatics of the noise contagion, by contrast, is a negative force that jams communication, impedes signals, and the markets the environment for which it intervenes for a simultaneous destruction and evolution. Hence the presence of the affective registers of dread and opening: dissolution and recomposition are precisely the reasons noise is invoked.’

Deterritorial Investigations

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We have become so accustomed to violence through entertainment that transgression itself has become merely another capitalist performance. How then do we elevate art, how can it be a reaction to the Other instead of its medium? How must we act when yesterday’s transgressions are today’s commodities? – Andreas BurckhardtiSound

When we consider the topic of noise, as an aesthetic mode aligned with moments bound up in the emergence or production of new subjective processes, we are taking into consideration an assemblage built from two primary parts. The first of these is the questions of the vibrational infrastructure of the noise itself: how is the noise produced, with what intensity or solemnity, how audible is the noise, how is it directed, from what distance is the noise traveling, how does the architecture impact the noise, how do the bodies in the proximity of the noise, be it those…

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‘Microblocks, vol. 1’ Passes 100 Downloads

and there is proof!
i know it’s a pretty paltry number, but the vast majority of these downloads (~80 or so) have come in the wake of ceaselessly e-mailing peeps and posting on various electronic audio forums during the past few weeks. so it feels good. we also did a small batch of zines (50) and have passed along around 40 of those. add this to the distributing to friends and we’ve gotten the sample-pack n essay to somewhere around 200 folks!
i am currently working on finishing the second volume of the ‘Microblocks’ sample-pack series and hoping to finish it by the end of October. It will be focused on chant recordings from demonstrations/riots/protests/etc. 
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Annotated Playlist: Cover Songs

Justin Hogg on cover songs as a way of thinking and rethinking the world

This annotated playlist comes from Justin Hogg — a DJ, writer, activist, student, and basketball enthusiast living in Santa Cruz, California.

“Those crazy kids what will they do? They’re not a bit like me and you, with that crypto-punky psychobilly beat. They took your sacred rock ‘n’ roll, they stripped it down and they left a hole, then they filled it up with anger from the street. Hey hey hey hey, mutant beat freaks.” — Cleaners From Venus, “Summer in a Small Town”

A prelude

I was playing basketball the other day inside my local recreation center’s gym when I noticed I was being watched from the bleachers by an old white man. As I sank jumper after jumper I ducked inside for a lay-up. I made that too, but the decrepit onlooker chose to scowl at me and said in a scratchy voice, “You shouldn’t shoot like that…

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