And when David Lowery gets up in front of a conference of leading professionals from the music and tech industries to compare the current modes of digital-music distribution and royalty payment to the old major-label system in an unfavorable way, you want to sit up and pay attention—because, wait, isn't this the same guy who once wrote a song about one of his former labels entitled "It Ain't Gonna Suck Itself"?
But he did exactly that at the SF MusicTech Summit in February, and a reconstruction of his speech is now available here. It's long and complicated, and probably not of much use to anyone who doesn't have a vested interest in the current system, either in content production or distribution, but it makes a convincing case that even though the majors were every bit as bad to bands as everyone says, they were still better than a setup where Apple takes 30 percent of the cost of a product they assumed no risk to produce and Google actually makes a profit from sites that illegally distribute music. I don't think Lowery is totally right, and I wouldn't want the hazy glow of Grunge Bubble nostalgia—with its visions of big-ass advance checks flying into the hands of anyone with a guitar and a thrift-store T-shirt—to distract anyone from all the artists who've been completely ripped off by their labels. But there's a lot in here to think over.
Especially the part about Google's shady relationship with piracy sites, which is just infuriating.