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They have better beds on the A ward.


San Francisco Gay Pride Parade

July 7th, 2000

Love And Gates
I wrote a screed about Napster and the radical changes that are being made in the distribution of music a while back. My point wasn't whether or not it was ethical to download copies of MPEG songs you haven't paid for (it isn't), but that today's reality is such that songs are now free in MPEG format over the Internet. Period. Bottom line. Ethical or not.

Today I read a speech reprinted in Salon Magazine that was given by San Francisco Gay Pride Parade Courtney Love to a Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference (no, I don't know what Digital Hollywood is either) where she outlines the reality of the record business for a band that signs a record deal with a $1 million dollar advance against 20% of sales and ends up selling one million CDs. Who ends up owning the copyrights? How much money does the record company make and how much money is kept by the artists? One, almost none, the other, a lot, and you know which is which. Whether her analysis is correct, I don't know. Some of it is I suspect.

My thought isn't so much about the sins of the record business. My sinning has become more refined over the years. Either that, or I've simply lost interest. Do the record companies have a lock on talent? Probably. Do they pay radio stations to play their music? They always have. Do they pretty much determine what goes onto a music store's shelves? I'm not sure, but I suspect they have their influence. Is $17 too much for a CD? Yeah. Probably. For a Courtney Love CD, maybe.

The thing I've been wondering about is how the rest of the business world is doing. Mergers here, SF Gay Pride Parade mergers there and pretty soon you've got half a dozen companies ruling the world. I'm thinking of industries like telecommunications, ISP's, automobiles, oil and gas, Wheaties and milk. The people who sell us our day to day necessities, the charge whatever the market will bear folks. When I was younger I paid attention to that kind of stuff. Not a lot of attention, but it was considered one of those things a young and politically aware fellow did, kind of like saying you read the Sunday New York Times. There was always a certain amount of anti-trust background noise when I was growing up, a noise that I no longer hear because, perhaps, I no longer have the sources of information I once had, no longer talk with people who pay attention to the subject or maybe because nobody's minding the store anymore.

Microsoft, yes, Microsoft stepped on its dick, but Microsoft is an anomaly and Microsoft, you will notice, has still not taken the bullet. Most monopolies don't have a founder running the company, someone who still carries the internal weight to make a really stupid decision and not be immediately fired by his board of directors.

From Courtney Love, about whom I know little (I did a name search on Salon and got some horrendous number of hits. Fortunately her Salon article was third from the top.) to Bill Gates, about whom I know too much and would like to know less. Friday, after work. The mind plays tricks. Love and Gates.

The photographs were taken at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. The quote under The Sole Proprietor title is anonymous, but nice.