Monday, June 05, 2006

I actually had a dream.

This will sound silly, but it still is the truth. I actually had this dream about six months ago, and I grinned like a maniac when I woke up.

In the dream I was standing next to a long table full of records. Thousands of copies of the same album, and I was working sweatshop style opening the shrinkwrapped albums, taking out a misprinted flyer that was inside and replacing it with a corrected flyer from a stack on the table. Then I put the album on a huge stack on my right, and picked up a new faulty album from the stack on my left. Mindless job. Along my table was about half a dozen people, and there were more tables with about a dozen more guys doing the same unskilled labour.
I picked up one of my reassembled albums and looked at it in more detail. The cover was a 12-inch gatefold on heavy card stock. Beautiful full color print on both front and back. Inside, on the left side was a slot where the replaced flyer sat with all lyrics and comments from the band. Behind it were more pictures. On the right hand side of the gatefold was a small foam plastic dot holding a normal CD. The quality of the cover was the standard quality of an album cover in the seventies or eighties. I actually think it was a Hipgnosis design, but I am not sure.
I looked up and met the eyes of another sweatshop guy at the table in front of mine, and he said "Retails for six bucks. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, asshole pirates!". I laughed so hard I woke up.
THIS is what the record business should be doing instead of suing the fans. Give us good art, a reasonable price and something of value that cannot be duplicated online. Let us download the content off the net, decide about buying the record and then sell us something that gives that extra bonus feature, whatever it may be. Make one edition of the album with the lyrics, and another with guitar tabs and the true fans will buy both! The extras are the reason DVD sales actually increase despite the always-increasing file swapping on the net. Good pirates never copy the DVD extras, to give extra incentive for the fans to buy the original DVD:s. I kid you not, a lot of them actually think about this - I know because I have talked to them.
Replacing the fragile, stupid and too-small jewel box with a full size cover would actually make albums worth looking at again. It has been a LONG time since I saw a cover that really caught my attention like the old LP covers of yesterdecade. The playing card size area simply does not cut it as a billboard to present something, especially when there are five lines of copyright legalese printed as well. Beautiful? No.
The sweatshop guy in my dream does not share my attitude toward pirates. Pirates are generally my friends, as long as we talk about not-for-profit sharers. The assholes are the people trying to make some bucks off someone elses art, and they deserve whatever rotten karma they get. Back in the day before pressure groups redefined what "pirate" meant, they would have been called "thieves" and the file swappers would have been called "traders", as they were when Grateful Dead fans swapped concert tapes. Nowadays all people who touch someone elses copyrighted stuff are called "pirates", and all employees of various business associations are called "bastards". Language has sure come a long way.


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