TODAY your humble blogger speaks to the musicians’ rights advocate and gets into some new territory — not just the way music streaming hurts artists, but the US government’s complicity in the current mess, the feckless Department of Justice, and the irrational way people view the Internet in general. Here’s Lowery in my Salon story:
The Internet has become cargo cult. People worship the Internet like a cargo cult. It’s this thing that they have that brings them free stuff, and they think it’s magic. It’s beyond rational thought and reason, right? And they have no sense that behind all that free stuff are the drowned ships and sailors. They don’t want to hear that behind the way you get this free stuff, some really actually fucked-up things have happened to individuals and their individual rights.
The occasion for this interview was a lawsuit about royalties for music recorded pre-1972, which Camper Van Lowery thinks has major consequences that will become clear over time. Some advocates of streaming — including those inside the services — have said that these musicians never expected royalties and don’t need to receive them. Lowery’s response:
I mean, if Pandora is going to stream these things and if Sirius is going to broadcast these things, why shouldn’t they get paid? We’re America, we’re a fair country. We’re not a country like China, where we just go, “Here’s a politically well-connected elite, we’re just going to hand them the rights to something that somebody created.” Just so the politically well-connected can get richer. It’s really funny to me — look, I’m not really a lefty or liberal, I’m basically a little right of center in my politics — and it’s just funny to see consumers sort of rallying around the rights of corporations and against the rights of individuals.
And on a holiday made possible by the protests of workers, we wish everyone a happy Labor Day.