editorial : digital dilemma by Sam Rosenthal

As an early proponent of MP3s and music download, Sam Rosenthal, the man behind goth/folk/neofolk label Projekt Records and founder/songwriter of the legendary goth formation, Black Tape For A Blue Girl reflects on issues that not only concern musicians, but concern every creative.

by Sam Rosenthal

Ah, so what is to be done about this new Digital Dilemma? I’ve run Projekt Records (www.projekt.com) since the early 80s, we have 266 releases out. This is an immediate disclaimer to address one of the memes hurled my way. It goes, “You have to get with the times. Making money off recorded music is yesterday’s business. That’s over. Find a different way to monetize your music.” You know, I understand change; I’ve seen a lot of change over the last 28 years. A lot! In order to stay in business, I keep up.

However, what those CEOs and “fans” who live by this meme are really saying is, “I want to listen to your music, but I don’t want to pay for it. I am going to pass the responsibility for compensation down the road to some other customer. You need to find some new way to make a living off THAT person’s enjoyment of your art. Oh, but keep making music, because I want it for free.” We’ve got a problem here. FREE has become the price point that many people want to pay for music. However, free is not a price point that works for creative endeavors. There are costs to making art. Equipment. Studio time. Paying musicians… And what about the hours we spend creating? Time taken away from “a real job” earning a real income. My rent still needs to be paid, my utilities, my son’s sneakers. For some reason, some people think that artists (and musicians in particular) should work for free. Where’s the logic to this? Well, there is no logic. This is a justification for wanting something for themselves, without considering the results of their action. Do you think people can create your favorite TV show for free? Your favorite movie? Your favorite Thai meal? Will the supermarket give you a box of cereal when you are hungry but don’t have the money to pay? Sure, we’d all kinda love a free meal or movie, but we are realistic that one can’t just walk off with the things you want… and yet… with music people feel it’s different.

read the full editorial in the December/January 2011/2012 Issue

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