My friend Eric has been mentioned in this space before as one of the “Ralph Moneybags” crew. He sent me an email recently in which he raised a few thoughts I think are worth sharing. I hope you do as well, and I’ve taken the liberty, with Eric’s permission to post an edited down version.
If you live in the Bay Area, you should check out Eric’s band, the Jack Aces. Search around – there are videos! I know we try to keep this space pretty apolitical, but although some of what he writes is in a political content, they’re really more substantive issues that aren’t part of the conversation, no matter how you feel about one answer or another. The point he gets to toward the end was summed up nicely by old Kris: Nothing ain’t worth nothing but it’s free. Let’s hear what you think!
Ben Dowling (below was sent to his CD Baby customers) and I were roommates back in the dark ages at Boston University. Ben transferred into BU after a stint at the Berklee College of Music. Ben injected me with jazz and fusion. He would plug headphones straight into his Fender Rhodes, turned up the reverb and blow my mind on the keyboard. Later he would say “you mind if a few guys come over and jam?” 3-4 musicians would arrive with gear, packed into our tiny dorm room on West Campus and come unhinged playing AMAZING music. I’d close a textbook and watch/listen in awe.
25 years later I found him via the Internet, composing, playing, recording and doing Dolby sound production for the studios in LA. Ben is still clearly passionate about what he does but he’s troubled; he can’t make money from making great music. Can anyone, except for major touring bands? See – LIVE NATION merger.
The idea that “content yearns to be free” (Esther Dyson) continues and spreads unabated.
The culture of free affects more than artists, writers and web 2.0 companies. Zero payments may be a canary in the U.S. coal mine. Have we become the land of the Free Stuff?
We expect nearly everything to be free or heavily subsidized. No one cares to figure out how to offset it with new revenues or taxes or new THINGS. Think about daily, regional costs.
- Park maintenance
- Mass Transit
- Highway tolls
Symptoms. Solutions. Where are the new thinkers to wrestle with the new problems and willing to WORK to create new solutions? Why is no one on Facebook outraged about the oil spill? Is it just another TV disaster we’re numb to? Gulf of Mexico, what the hell man, we have other oceans to body surf in or, “Hey, it happens”. Can we be a true Superpower and be #1 debtor nation (to China) at the same time?
When 20 somethings say “Whatever”, it just drives me bonkers. Maybe this is the W Generation. Hmm, seems we had a leader like that.
I wish my Dad were still alive. We need Applied Sociologists now more than ever.