Cory Doctorow: Artists earn more from sales if they do more

Don’t hate that downloader, he might be making you rich. ‘The most profligate downloaders are the most profligate anything,’ according to Cory Doctorow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ‘They are the ones who enjoy the most music, the one who downloads the most music and goes to the most gigs.’ Artists and content creators risk destroying valuable, financially lucrative, relationships by coming down hard on the illegal activity of these fans.

credit: Meet The Media Guru
Mr Doctorow was in Melbourne to give a lecture titled ‘Copyright versus creativity’ as part of this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival.

He suggested that improving the leverage between artists and distributors is the key to better financial outcomes for content makers, and not by increasing the ever-tightening grip of copyright laws. He cited as an example the income distribution from song purchases on Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Apple takes half of every 99 cents a song sells for through iTunes’ American store, and the remaining 50% is shared between the label and the artists. The label makes a contractual claim to 6/7th of that 50%, which gives the band roughly 7 cents to share between them.

‘The best way to improve artists’ lives is by making it cheaper for them to get paid,’ he explained. Labels, publishers, and closed distribution channels like iTunes incur costs in making a work public [VIDEO LINK]. They print it, promote it, distribute it, they basically take the risk of making a business out of the artist’s content. They stand to lose or gain from the product offered, just like in any other business activity, and can claim the lion’s share of revenue for their effort.

Doctorow calls for artists to do more for their selves to loosen the grip that labels and publishers have over their work.

‘The more an artist can do for herself, the more control she has over her destiny,’ he said.

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