In response to my noncompliance problems with Postclassic Radio, a lot of people e-mailed me with suggestions for getting around the two-track rule at Live365 – thanks to all of you – and several recommended not being very public about my solutions, which is why not all those comments have appeared. I even came up with a trick of my own. Suffice it to say that I’ve learned a little more about iTunes, and that you may find an occasional discrepancy between track name and content. The playlist now running on Postclassic Radio is no different than it was last Monday, yet I am now in compliance with the GDDMCA (God-Damned Digital Millennium Copyright Act). At least, Live 365’s computer is not registering any infraction, and that’s what counts, right?
So, yay!, I got our music past the government censors! But the very fact of having to exercise my creativity in a sneaky, duplicitous way, just to present a multimovement work in its entirety with the full permission of the composer, and on a station that I’m paying to operate yet, gives me the creepy feeling of having time-traveled into the old Soviet Union. As I’ve pointed out in other contexts, there’s no longer a line to be drawn in America between the government and the large corporations that control it and direct its actions, so we need to get out of the old habit of making a distinction between government censorship and corporate lack of interest. And in this case it was our actual remaining unindicted congress members who decided, in their well-remunerated wisdom, to censor the free broadcasting of any more than two movements of a multimovement work. I could make a five-movement electonic work myself, on my own equipment with no one else involved, and it would be illegal to present it on Live365 in five separate tracks. So, in a bit of comedic dialogue that George Orwell would surely have relished, the new-music community has responded to the government: “Multi-movement works? Why, senator, there’s no such thing! A piece of music is, by definition, only one track!”
I said that no one was losing any money over my playing little-known works that aren’t commercially recorded. From the corporate government’s viewpoint, I’m not so sure that’s true. One of the rules given in Live365’s mass e-mailing was: “No unauthorized or ‘bootleg’ recordings.” I’m not sure what an unauthorized recording is. I play a lot of music from CDRs, and even music from cassettes I’ve collected over the years. Clearly the assumed purpose of Live365 is to get people to pay to make up their own playlists of favorite commercial recordings. They can play just enough of the CD to pique the listener’s interest, but not enough to decrease incentive to go out and buy the album. In short, Live365’s raison d’etre is that the recording industry allows us, if we pay a fee, to make commercials for its products.
Clearly, Postclassic Radio subverts that intention. I believe the only current recordings I’ve ever played from a label owned by the Big Five record companies – excuse me, I mean the Big Four – no wait a minute, it’s now the Big Three (I’d better finish this entry quickly before it’s the Big Two) – have been Robert Ashley’s Improvement and some of Frederic Rzewski’s piano music on Nonesuch. Many of the pieces I play can’t be purchased. Many others the composer would be happy to send you. At present, an average of 46 people a day listen to my station for an average of 43 minutes each. Theoretically, if they weren’t listening to Postclassic Radio, they’d be listening to something else for those 1,978 minutes. Assuming that other people weren’t also subverting the industry’s intentions, that something would be a product that they bought. If it weren’t for me (or my equivalent), they’d be engaged in an activity that was making money for the corporate government. Therefore, by providing them with a non-money-producing alternative to the product the government offers for their “consumption,” I am stealing money from the government. And in fact, all of us who make music whose primary purpose isn’t to make money for a corporation are, in effect, bandits, and if the government can’t entirely stop us, it must at least keep us marginalized, out of sight – until one of us, somehow breaking through the moratorium on media exposure for bandits, begins to attract enough audience attention that a corporation can start making money on him.
Of course, you at least had to use a computer to listen to Postclassic Radio, so that made money for someone. And if you weren’t listening, rather than listen to something else, you might just take a walk outside, and enjoy the trees and the birds and the sunshine. Our corporate overlords haven’t figured how to cash in on that yet. Postclassic music is as subversive – as Nature itself!