So, Lily Allen — yes, that Lily Allen — is back on the soapbox again. Ever the donna of the digital domain, Ms. Allen hit up MySpace, Twitter, and even created a blog to bring attention to a cause that is of paramount importance to her, her country, and the world — music piracy.
Now more than ever, in the midst of Kanye-Swiftgate, we’ve got to look at the big picture. The pop spectacle is all fun and games, until you realize that people aren’t joking. The devil is in the details — literally. Where Kanye’s blip-on-the-radar-screen “outburst” (still baffled by the media’s word choice on that one) shifted focus from national priorities like, oh, I don’t know, healthcare reform, to a week of punchlines — no, wait, imma let you finish — Lily’s most recent tirade is overshadowing other worthwhile crusades. Lily of all people should know this, but I digress. The devil is in the fact that people’s attention is diverted by the details, the effects — the award show antics, the anti-filesharing rants, Joe Wilson’s debatably racist remark — and not on the big picture, or the causes — media hyping pop culture to the point of perception as reality, the future of business and namely the music industry in the face of technological innovation, racism in American politics and society (furthermore, the focus on isolated racist comments, versus the institutionalized racism/prejudice of over 35 million people without healthcare).
That said, I’m not going to focus on the issue of music piracy in and of itself — whether it’s right, wrong, inevitable, etc. — but rather, the issue of music piracy’s priority within the bigger scheme of social progress, government involvement, and the always important “so what” factor. So, beyond the legal implications (intellectual property/copyright law, Napster and Betamax cases, Creative Commons, debate between prioritizing creative/commercial artistic value, etc.) I’ll keep my two cents short:
Lily was kind of involved with the Anti-Knife Violence campaign with Boris Johnson, and then pushed for Gordon Brown to fund more urban youth projects, but I suppose Anti-Piracy is more life-saving, relevant, pertinent, crucial, selfless, etc. I love Lily, but her priorities seem a bit off here. I can’t judge, I just figure 1) the government’s got bigger fish to fry — namely: getting fish, or any food really, on the tables of the unemployed and underprivileged — and 2) Lily’s passion, prose, and perspective could be used for a greater good — namely: Anti-Knife Violence, or, I don’t know, funding urban youth projects. Oh, the things we learn to value and defend after a summer trip to Africa…
Okay, a few words on the legal/business aspect: The music industry is working from a dated standard. As Hov told Drake to say: “You can’t bring the future back.” Innovation happens: the internet opened up a whole new world of information sharing; people — especially techies — don’t progress to the past. The concept of selling songs as a consumer product (as opposed to corporate product in video games, adverts, movies, etc.) for substantial profit has about as much modern commercial value as the 8-track. What does this mean for the music industry? Simple; if I sell water in a desert and it rains: I need to change my business model. What does that mean for Lily? Sometimes it’s okay to use the soapbox to sell soap. It’s nice to preach on your platform, but the box was made to push a product first.
Tangent: when John Brown died to emancipate the slaves, it was futile but worthwhile:
“Did John Brown fail? John Brown began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic. His zeal in the cause of freedom was infinitely superior to mine. Mine was as the taper light; his was as the burning sun. I could live for the slave; John Brown could die for him.” – Frederick Douglass
— trying to stop online file-sharing though, if you achieve that impossible goal it’s like: “okay, now what?”
Update: Lily, originally slated to pass on the Featured Artists’ Coalition meeting in London regarding a file-sharing resolution, appeared alongside 100 fellow FAC members on Thursday. Greeted by a standing ovation, Allen, came to a consensus with artists such as George Michael, Annie Lennox, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason signing an agreement proposing that “serial file-sharers” not suffer suspended internet accounts — as ministers previously suggested — but rather offenders receive two warning letters before having their broadband speeds restricted in a way that would “render sharing of media files impractical while leaving basic e-mail and web access functional,” according to the statement.
Seeing as it is Music Monday, all of this talk about the future got me a bit worried that the next generation of artists would move so far forward so fast, that they would forget about the past. Then, I saw this and everything was just wonderful
Watch this space