LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You Know You're DOOMED When...
You win an all-expenses paid vacation to Tahiti - during Typhoon Season.
You've stumbled onto another issue of The Crapolla, a journal written for software professionals. No not the managers; I mean the people who do the work.
This Crapolla is sponsored by...
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In This Issue...
Three magic pills, and a 2 Liter Bottle of Diet Coke.
Cold and Flu season is here. If you're like me (you poor bastard!) you have co-wokers that don't stay home when they are contagious. Why? Because staying home eats PTO days. They want to use those days to spend two weeks in Aruba sitting on a beach swigging parasol drinks, and installing skin cancer. So they show up for work completely Ebola'ed out.
I remember ten years ago at Green Lizard the same cold kept making the rounds in the department. It just kept going around and around. These guys weren't going to Aruba. A bunch of them had never seen sunlight. They saw a ton of work, and thought working 12 hour days meant they were working half-time. Come hell or high water, they worked.
On to the important question, where does this leave me? I'm surrounded by NyQuil Zombies blowing their noses every thirty seconds while debating the merits of Cocoa Butter cut with a good SPF 30 sun block.
I don't get sick very often, but when I think I'm contagious, I stay home. It makes the most sense. I shouldn't be driving when I'm taking my Robitussin/Sudafed/Tylenol cocktail of over-the-counter meds. When I'm on this stuff, pulling onto the freeway feels like the Millennium Falcon entering hyperspace - and my navi-computer is on the fritz.
My brain also gets mushy on medications, and since I'm essentially paid to think, what good am I anyway? But I digress. This isn't about my excellent behavior, it's about my selfish co-workers conspiring to infect me with their nasty little germs just so they can get really inexpensive massages in the Caribbean.
I think when someone comes to work and makes me sick, I should be able to stay home and charge it to their PTO account. After all, they are the ones killing my productivity with their bad behavior. Why should I be penalized? I push little old ladies out of the way so I can get a flu shot every year. I take precautions. What if I want to go to some tropical paradise, to drink Diet Coke with pineapple wedges perched on the glass rim?
What did the original Napster really give us? Free (yet illegal) downloads? That's a given. But Napster gave us something even more valuable - the notion that no one really needs the record companies anymore.
With millions of people around the world illegally downloading music on a daily basis, we learned that the internet is a viable distribution channel. In the evolution from illegal downloads, to Apple's iTunes music store, we've seen that people will go down a legal path if possible. But people are not interested anymore in paying 20 bucks to buy a CD that has one good track on it.
The current business model starts with a contract between musicians and the record company. The record company fronts some money to record the music, then takes care of advertising and distribution of the recordings. So far, this sounds great. Time for the dirty little secrets.
When the records start selling the musicians are not paid. The cost of making the recordings, and other production costs (art, cocaine, etc.) are charged against the sales. Until the record company makes back all of its money, the artist makes nothing. If you're Madonna, this is a minor annoyance because your stuff sells millions world-wide. But if you are a small, lesser known musician, you are likely to never make a dime.
Meanwhile, the musician has contributed one more item. When they signed the contract, they signed over their copyright of the music to the record company. The company owns the one item of possible future value. This is significant considering people like Michael Jackson can make millions a year owning the copyrights to other's creative works. (Jackson owns most of The Beatles catalog. This pisses off Paul McCartney to no end.)
Musicians make their money the old fashioned way, they tour. A share of the gate, and merchandise is how the modern musician puts food on the table. Even the well-known artists like Madonna and The Rolling Stones make most of their income from the tour. The all-time champion of making money on tour was The Grateful Dead.
About the only real benefit the record company provides the musician is that it gives free records to radio stations and then tries to persuade the stations to play the music. (There have been several instances in the past where record companies have illegally paid radio stations to play music.) The air-play gets the music in front of the public, and is part of the record's marketing campaign. Air-play equals record sales, and also concert tickets.
Everyone in the music business has been noticing the music downloading of the past years. The record companies are scared to death, and well they should be. The consumer is cutting them out of the picture. But has this really harmed the musician? I don't believe it has. The RIAA keeps telling people that when they download illegally, they are stealing from the artist. Not so, the theft is from the copyright holder which is not the artist, it's the record company (or if you download The Beatles, you're stealing from Michael Jackson.) Yes, the artists do receive a small royalty from the sales of records, but it's not their primary income by a long shot unless they are the big names with the unusually generous contracts.
The artists (sans Metallica) appear to be realizing that internet downloading is not harming them. In fact it might just be what they need to free themselves from the record companies' control of their choices of content, and loss of copyright.
The band Steadman has realized that giving away their music makes them more popular. They weren't making any real money from the records, so they broke from Electra Records and went out on their own. You can go to their site and download their music free. Give the music to your friends. You aren't stealing. You're doing them a favor. By passing out the music, the band is generating the internet equivalent of the radio air-play, but that air-play isn't controlled by someone in New York deciding who will be the next big star.
Steadman isn't the first band to realize that giving the music away is the answer. The Grateful Dead openly encouraged fans to bring tape recorders to their concerts. The fans made copies of their recordings and traded amongst themselves. The band understood that a happy fan is a ticket-buying fan. The Dead had a loyal following literally. Kids would follow the band around the country, going to concert after concert. (Ah, to be young with no responsibilities.)
The internet is democracy's biggest tool. Yes, you can market on the internet, but ultimately, more choice is made at the bottom rather than the top. By going to the internet for their marketing, rather than a record company, an artist makes a more direct connection to the audience, and has more freedom to create their music rather than music the marketing department says will sell, and most important - the artist keeps their copyright.
This is the real reason the RIAA and the companies it represents are scared to death. The internet has made them obsolete. When big companies get scared they do what big companies do best, they unleash their lawyers. This is exactly what we have been seeing the past few years. The trouble is there's no amount of lawsuits that can stop this type of change.
COVER UP AT ABC! Peter Jennings Dead Since August 8!
Why hasn't ABC News EVER Said Anything?
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"I'm too much a weasel for Marketing."
"Sometimes it pays to just keep your pants on!"
"How you release software is you defer the bugs."
"Usually when this happens, guys buy a convertible."
"That's right, you come from Ludite stock."
I need to do a line of ginseng.
(They pay me to think. These are my thoughts. Do you think they are getting their money's worth?)
Remember: The Crapolla contains my personal opinions. That's right they're mine, so get your own! And you kids get off my lawn!
Although written with the software professional in mind, my mind tends to wander all over the place, and I sometimes write about politics, mass stoopidity, dumb things I saw, and whatever else comes to mind.
From time to time, I use salty language, thus The Crapolla is not intended for children, or certain people in the Bush Administration.
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