Let's go shoplifting!
The old entertainment conglomerates (who have been ripping off musicians forever) and the new tech establishment (who's just learning) had a fight recently, and free speech won -- sort of.
Musicians stayed out of the clamor, though. It's hard to get excited when said free speech is, in fact, your song, and the companies "respecting" its freedom make a buck off it being free.
But musicians are used to not being respected. We're not really a respectable bunch by nature. It's our job to stand outside institutions so we can feel and say things that those inside can't. For this, we receive worship, but not respect. So there's little reason for us to pick a side.
The real reason musicians stayed out of the SOPA debate is that no one likes a whiner -- that's really it. We've always been on the side of the pirate ('cept the ones Obama shoots in the head).
So what do we say when some well-meaning techie entrepreneur informs us "music wants to be free, bro"? How to respond when told that a song you made possesses the capacity for desire, and said entrepreneur knows what that desire is, and that desire is for you to get took?
Here might be an answer. Musicians should say, "Yes, by gum, music does want to be free. And so do computer products, and fresh peas, and everything at the hardware store. So let's take it!"
No inflammatory writ, no siding with our corporate masters. No sir. Let's just head down to Union Square and free up some Prada.
That's right, what I am mock-advocating here is for musicians to hold others to the new standard: It wants to be free!
This new policy is going to be hard for me. My mother raised me right, and I have yet to steal anything in my life -- save for the occasional AC/DC riff (little did I know I was inhibiting market innovation).
However, my favorite local rock star, Luisa Black, said her New Year's resolution is "do more crime." She's an inspiration.
So what am I actually getting at, besides a fun new rationale for shoplifting?
Nothing really. I'm excited about this! But while I'm at it, SOPA seems dumb, and maybe even destructive. Neither party in the debate was concerned about music. Until music and the musicians that make it get respected, expect us to stay out of the fight.
Meanwhile, I'll see you all at the Apple store. Bring a real big bag.