The manager’s superfluous

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Español: El gestor sale sobrando

Every artist or group with certain fame has surely been taught about the usual distribution method, namely through a manager. In this system, there are six or seven parts:

  • The author or group.
  • The production, which is in charge of creating the work; it can be a recording/movie/animation studio, post-production, etcetera.
  • The manager, who nominally is in charge of managing the other parts to have the work reach its destination.
  • The distributor, that, as the name implies, distributes the work, whether by recording it in a physical format, or by placing the digital download servers.
  • The store, digital or physical.
  • The client.
  • Depending on the market, the locator, who translates the work and occasionally adapts it for the target market. Curiously, music is seldom translated.

Well then, there’s a little big problem, and it’s that the manager often chops down expenditures to raise the earnings:

  • Making the artists to sign contracts where they surrender their rights, often paying them little or nothing, and disrespecting the author’s artistic vision routinely.
  • Lowering the production budget, knowing that the bad quality can be compensated with aggressive advertisement.
  • Only authorizing distributors that accept their terms, only for a limited time, and sometimes only if they guarantee minimal earnings; if there are no distributors in  an unprofitable region, bad for them.
  • Demanding drastic measures to stores to prevent “content leaking”.
  • Cutting localization budgets for the same reasons that production budgets are cut.
  • And, to finish, limiting the client with all sorts of reproduction, redistribution and derivation restrictions.

In the end, the manager is over-controlling, and has only been tolerated because, historically, it has been the only road to fame. But it happens that new independent distribution methods have appeared, such that the artist can manage several of the steps on its own, and so the historical manager’s now superfluous.

  • The artists can become their own producers and assure that their artistic vision will be kept.
  • They can use free distribution and advertisement services, that don’t restrict the work geographically.
  • They can make their own digital stores, or managing their sales in others stores, digital or physical, that are not under the exclusive control of managers.
  • They can commission their fans to translate their works, as they do today in a para-legal form.
  • And, most importantly, they can have a deep relationship, not with clients, but with fans.

Managers promise fame and fortune, and rarely do they accomplish their promises. Now that it’s finally viable, it’s time for art to start self-managing.

The several levels of Black March

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Español: Los varios niveles del Marzo Negro

Hopefully you already know about the Black March initiative. For those who haven’t, I’ll recap quickly: the semi-clandestine group Anonymous plans to boycott next March the so-called “content industries”, that is, the creators and providers of entertainment, whether music, movies, books, etcetera. However, the diverse factions of the group and its allies have split on two levels of boycott: one, the merely economical boycott, and the other one, a more ideological boycott.

Level 1: economical boycott

  • Not purchasing albums, books, movies, programs, games, concert/match/event tickets, etcetera
  • If possible, unsubscribing at least temporarily from pay-per-use entertainment services (newspapers, cable, streaming, etc.)

This level was the one originally proposed by Anonymous. Unfortunatel, staying at that level would have a next-to-zero impact: people who support download sites (like Megaupload) and torrent services already don’t carry out any of the before-said actions. This is why several voices have proposed the second level.

Level 2: ideological boycott

  • Refrain from downloading, playing or using albums, books, movies, games, programs, etcetera, whether legally or illegally
  • Refraining from visiting free streaming sites (e.g. YouTube, GrooveShark, etcetera)
  • Not attending free events
  • Refrain from entering sites whose content is copyrighted (including newspapers and opinion sites)
  • If possible, storing receivers like TV and radio
  • If possible, replacing all copyrighted programs with freedom-compliant alternatives (including especially the operative system)

This level has a world of difference compared with the former. Especially because, seemingly, it implies to deprive oneself of all sorts of entertainment for a whole month. Nobody expects a majority to carry on such a sacrifice… because it’s unneeded.

Has somebody heard about the copyleft culture? Originally it was applied to programs, and thanks to that several operative systems appeared, like the GNU OS and/or Linux, but then it extended to all sorts of applications and finally to the culture. For example, several of the artists who publish their works under Creative Commons licensing (although, by the way, I warn that not all of them do, for several reasons). There’s good and plenty of music, good movies (although not so many, in this moment), and good books under a freedom-compliant license in this moment.

Well, to the point. I’ve been personally compilating a long list of music, movies and books, all free to be redistributed and readapted without any further restriction besides keeping said freedoms. If I could contact a high command of Anonymous, or at least the administrators of download and torrent sites, for convincing them that, during that month, they changed their links with only free culture, carefully compiled, then we would cause a movement never seen before.

A full month where internauts would discover that not every work has restrictions. A month where free culture will be fortified. A month where, who knows, people will get animated to free their own works.

A month where the impact that Anonymous expected with the Black March will pass from meagerly decreasing the resources to the stubborn entertainment titans, who dream with a world where ideas are in an archipelago of a thousand faraway pillars, to removing the strap off the eyes of thousands, millions of internauts, who will discover a new way to be, have, and make culture, a more democratic, more reasonable system.

And that’s a world of difference.

Blurred – a utopian story

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Nota: A solicitud del concurso, esta entrada ha sido escrita primeramente en idioma inglés.

La versión en español está disponible aquí.


BLURRED

A utopian story

CC-BY-SA Carlos Solís. Most rights reversed. More liberal licensing may be available on request.

This work takes part in the Future of Copyright Contest.


Vera Ruthenford is not an ordinary citizen.

She is able to see people where others see blurs.

She is able to hear noise where others hear silence.

She is able to perceive the truth. Continuar leyendo