Tuesday, January 24, 2012

a timely warning


this is going to be "ancient" news in about 38 minutes i guess, but here goes anyway:

It's unfortunate that Brooklyn Vegan chose to add nothing to the potential debate around the Bastard Noise/ MitB vs Akron Family's merch machine debate. Instead their piece looks vaguely like some kind of TMZ meets EXTREME MUSIC (bro') pop news item.

The Skull is famously not drawn by Eric Wood's own hand; he took it from a book in the library twenty years ago. And Akron Family aren't the first to use The Skull on a shirt, Capitalist Casualties did it, Robocop did it; i'm sure a shit ton more have used the image.

Really what this about is context and re-appropriation.

I consider Wood a good friend and i can imagine that if whichever dude in Akron Family it is that used to drink 40s in the parking lot of crust shows as a teenager in the 1990s had e mailed him and said "i love your work, i play in this band, i think it would be funny if we used The Skull on one of our shirts as a weird homage/ clandestine propaganda" Wood would have been completely stoked.

Instead he sees some band with absolutely no clear link to any of his values, principles or aesthetics using The Skull with no explanation and he's mad as hell and goes into his patented Eric Wood Meltdown Mode (no one is safe...).

Akron Family have not obviously paid their dues and it just looks like another depressingly typical context-less re-appropriation of a symbol that represents considerably more than Akron Family understand (see my awesome Akron Family tattoo below).

It would be like seeing Kit Kat do a commercial where their delicious product forms Black Flag bars and some central casting punk kids eat them. What's the connection (Besides Dez Cadena potentially really liking Kit Kats)?

This will all blow over. Akron Family's manager will figure out his charges aren't going to get sued, they'll eventually issue a public statement (or Israel Lawrence will just keep posting private communication from the band) about how they meant it all in the greatest respect.

And because seemingly no one can ever remember history, it'll happen again in a few years (remember the utter PR disaster of Nike's Major Threat tour a few years go?)

What's the lesson here? That if you don't have an obvious claim to a symbol, you need to put it the fuck down and find something else.

Hardcore punk (and metal and noise and every other contemporary youth culture for that matter) is infamous for its picking and choosing of external sources and symbols. Sometimes people pick up symbols they have absolutely no claim to. I remember about ten years ago a friends grindcore band, Tangaroa, got into a whole heap of internet bullshit with some people who were understandably miffed that they were using the name of a Maori god for their band name. As if the Maori's hadn't been almost colonised out of existence enough without some English kids rendering something of great importance meaningless.

There's several moments in my own body of work, including recently, where in hindsight i've felt i should have actually left someone else's imagery alone.

No one looks good here, Wood and his friends and supporters (like me) look petty ("it's just an image man, other people have done it before and he just took it out of a book anyway"), and Akron Family look like cynical plagiarists at worst and naive dilettantes at best.

OK, i'm off to reblog 8,000 pictures of alchemy on tumblr


Ryan Page said...

Nice piece. I totally agree. Actually, I had made very similar points elsewhere on the web. One thing that surprised me was the nastiness of this band's fans.

Also, as you might of guessed, Robocop did have the courtesy (or at least the fear of god) to ask permission. In fact, it was the artist that proposed it to us that asked (while he was in afghanistan, no less), Wood said it was beautiful, and asked for a few shirts for the BN.

It strikes me as strange that they wouldn't think to ask, but perhaps it a case of "Oh remember that crazy thing from when I was in highschool, wouldn't it be hilarious to use it on our albums/shirts". It just feels very fake to call something a tribute if you are in not way acknowledging the source. I find it highly unlikely that they're that reverential if they didn't know the bastard noise was a thing...

My favorite part of this was the claim that this was a promotional stunt on the part of the Man is the Bastard to get more fans. It just reveals so many levels of misunderstanding.

Anonymous said...

This was posted on Akron Family's Facebook... looks like you were barking up the right tree.

"Miles here, and i just want to say clearly that the use of the man is the bastard / bastard noise skull was meant to be a reverent homage to music / art that profound impact on me. And though it's likely that most of the people who listen to our music likely won't know the origin of the image, it's use was far away from "theft" to me. i'm very disheartened that this has been interpreted as a lack of respect. again, it's quite the contrary.

I saw Man is the Bastard in 1995 at the velvet elvis in seattle. having been writing songs and singing in a fairly straight ahead hardcore band in seattle
at the time and being 16 - i was not prepared. I had never seen aggressive music played with such disregard for the bounds of genre. the reinvention of bass playing happening on the spot, the references to jazz drumming { (tony williams) strifetime }, the wall of synth brutality, even how everyone looked so different (not all in one "punk" uniform) totally blew my mind. When i approached the bass a year or so later it was with that inspiration that i started to try to define my own style. I could go on and on about it, but i feel like this says what i mean. I'm not very interested in responding individually to all of the comments here, and to be honest, when i disengage a little from my own temper, i am inspired anew by the passionate and heated responses to this situation, so thanks for that!


sean socco said...

I'm glad to see a space for intelligent comment on this, thanks. I guess you can't really say a lot in a 20 word Facebook comment, and to paraphrase Fr. Greg Boyle, we're all smarter than the dumbest thing we ever said, but still, jeez. Anyways I think the "story" is a total non-issue but it does bring up some stuff I been thinking about. Here are my thoughts, along with some of my favorite comments I've seen on this on Facebook.

"Don't fuck with the skull"

I think that comment may be the most insightful if we ignore the silly macho bragging implipications. Symbols are magick. For many who have studied magick, learning to make sigils is where you start. To make a sigil, basically you draw a symbol that doesn't mean too much to you already, the kind you see all the time on metal albums these days, or the ones corporations use for logos, or in this case, a skull photocopied from a medical textbook in a local library. My band, Suffering Luna, uses an 8 pointed star. Anyways, once you create your sigil, you then invest energy into it. Meditate on it, jerk off to it, spend money on it, put it on flyers and records and patches or tag it all over the city. The more you invest into it, the more powerful it becomes, sometimes becoming so powerful it gets away from its creator and becomes viral. I can think of few sigil creators who have invested as much energy as consistently and for as long a time as Wood has on his skull. And based on how quickly Wood was able to summon an army of homoerotic kiss asses to his aid, I'm gonna guess there aren't a lot of symbols more jerked off to. Anyways, like the Chevy logo with redneck hot rodders, the Nike logo with athletes, the Crass logo with crusties, the skull has gone viral with a group of people who even go so far as to call themselves Skull Servants. In fact one of the reasons I'm concerned about this is because when my daughter was only a few months old I used to I dress her in a skull servant onesie I made.

A sigil becomes very different once it becomes viral, which is why many people destroy them after they've designed them. For one, people using a viral sigil don't know what intentions have already been put in it. They don't know who else is investing in it or for what purpose. That alone should make one think twice before using one. Maybe that's what Andrew was referring to above. The Ecstatically Embracing video is pretty loaded with them. In this case, it seems that Akron/Family have used the skull pretty casually and are getting burned for it. And looking at their artwork, it looks like they use sigils pretty casually all the time. Hopefully they learn from this. And another word of caution about sigils, especially viral sigils: you're best off using them to cast spells on yourself and not others. Getting a skull tattoo because you want to use it to focus your personal energies on becoming a better musician and to help motivate yourself to live up to the humanist, life-affirming values embodied in MITB lyrics are a perfect use of a sigil. Using the skull to make others like you more by putting it on shirts, album art, and videos is lame and predictably backfired.

to be continued...

sean socco said...


"Intellectual property is theft"

So I understand why Wood would find this appropriation of his sigil difficult, but on the other hand, he did say he created the sigil for basically that same purpose. Which brings up the issue of whether or not he "owns" the skull and it also brings up the issue of piracy/bootlegging which I think deserves more thought. This is where me and Wood disagree, respectfully I hope. And here I think the issue revolves around $$$ pretty fundamentally. Or more tactfully, around the issue of whether or not musician/artist/etc. should be a career choice in a capitalist society. I for one think the answer is no. EVERYONE should be creative and we should all respect each other's art as equally valuable, if not equally good. By that token, if we're all gonna be artists, we all have to find ways to survive that are not based on making money off our art. I'm a huge supporter of piracy because I think it has been the most successful tactic I could dream of to take down the soul-stealing, parasitic music industry and free our artistic spirits from the shackles of capitalism. If you want an lp or a cassette or something that costs significant money to make, you should buy or sell at a reasonable price so the artist or label doesn't have to spend all the money themselves. But that's not the same thing as saying you shouldn't download music that's still in print because the artist deserves to make $$$ of his/her recordings. Let's put our music out into the world and hope it echoes out as far as possible without expecting anything in return except other's music to come to us.

On a related note, did anyone see the interview with Dave King in the new Maximum Rock N Roll? He's the guy who created the Crass logo. He was asked what he'd think of some corporation like Addidas using his logo. He said he couldn't imagine it. Me either, since Addidas' three stripe sigil is so effective. Anyways, King's other comment was "For better or worse, we live in a media culture of appropriation, homage, and mash-ups." The interviewer went on to say he hopes it happens because he thinks the logo could never lose its basically subversive anti-christian meaning, so any appropriation by corporations would just further the initial purpose of the logo, which is to advance the cause of human liberation. Anyways since that interview, this hit the internet: http://www.cultpunk.org/?p=269

"Each one of them get superglue lubed catheter's (filled with cement) inserted from their D to their A. Leaving them a clogged aparatus from the waist down, making them a EUNUCH! "

To me, this is the only disturbing part of the whole thing. I know its hard to stay on the righteous path and at the same time be the soldiers we need to be in this fucked up society but let's at least stick to the basic principles embodied in the name Man is the Bastard and the creed "eternal war against the dicks." Using sexual violence, metaphoric or not, to make our point is EXACTLY what makes us bastards. We should be better than this dumb, macho, heteronormative bullshit. It just goes to remind you how sexist this whole sausagefest of a scene has become. I miss the days when there was more Hello Kitty shirts, queercore bands and riot grrls around keeping guys in check. I'm gonna try to do more to step up and fill in the void those womyn left when they got sick of us and split for the electroclash scene.

Anyways, those are my two cents.

Survivalist said...

Sean, i largely agree with most of your comments and you're pretty much filling in the blanks of stuff i left unsaid.

the whole gendered insults and threats thing, well, there are a number of ways to look at them, and your analysis, whilst correct, is not the only one.

I think, if anything positive can be gleaned, the hostility proves the power of symbols and sub-cultures and sense of ownership/ stewardship that people feel when they perceive their cultural territory as being encroached upon.

I think it reminds us that not everything can be reduced to meaningless images ready for plundering by anyone who takes a fancy to something. It's the reptilian brains response as opposed to your more insightful appraisal; and i think both are needed in situations like this.

One as a quick "get the fuck away from something you don't understand/ have no right to be referencing", the other as a more long term "this is why you don't do this kind of thing."

In much the same way that radical politics needs people who will break things/ fight cops out of anger and people who can elucidate exactly what the issue is after the fact.

But yeah, i miss those days too, though i'm not sure if they ever *really* existed, and if they did, i'm not sure they actually went away...

housepig said...

Andrew - thanks for this piece, and for the discussion following. it's weird to be so close in some ways to something like this, having cheerfully appropriated imagery over the years - the lines of theft / homage / jacking / tribute are almost as blurry as the lines apparently being drawn by various factions on all sides of this. Am I a "sock puppet" for Wood because I bear the sigil and am pissed at A/F for using it the way they did? Am I not a true "Skull Servant" if I don't join the "let's wreck their Wikipedia page" train?
balls. I'm going to go try and make some art tonight, and think harder going forward about what I adopt vs what I create. - housepig

Ryan Page said...

Sean, I appreciate a lot of what you said, but I have a problem with the idea that artists should expect nothing in return for their work. I think it represents an uneven approach to both anarchy and capitalism.

It seems strange to me that art which is clearly something people are willing to pay for if they can't get it for free is not inherently stripped of its monetary value simply because you can get it online. I know that I don't get anything personally free because I'm an artist, and that's because people expect to be compensated for their work.

I think more than any kind of movement towards anarchy what this has amounted to is the exploitation of the punk rock ethos to make money off musicians backs. Myspace is probably the best example of this. I don't feel like I'm being hyperbolic when I say people not buying music what drove a lot of bands to working with Scion. Ultimately I think this is a case of good intentions back firing, but it sort of frustrates me. People pay to play shows now, which is totally sick. I feel like the fact that it is so financially difficult to tour and make music that we have to rely on corporate welfare ultimately makes punk/metal/extreme music much weaker.

I don't want to seem like I'm self pitying, obviously if I was dumb enough to put myself in a situation where I expected to live off playing hardcore, I would deserve what came my way. I just wish that artists and musicians who put a large portion of their time towards something that is reasonably successful could at least make a similar amount of money to a low paying part-time job.

Its also easy to imagine that the general decrease in attention to craft and proliferation of albums that sound like they were written and recorded (without any forethought) in an hour is at least partially related to the relative ease in releasing music and the fact that artists aren't charging for their work.

The point I've been floating around is essentially that I don't see most people treating their clothing, food instruments, ipods, or romantic/sexual partners as communal, so to me it comes off as a massive double standard when art is treated that way. If that's someone's lifestyle, that's totally fine, but to me pretending art is somehow removed from life to the point where it is totally removed from money is a myth. It seems a bit like giving your marble to tom sawyer in exchange for painting his fence.

Sorry hone in on one issue, but if I were to comment on feminism my comment would balloon to 8 pages and it wouldn't be written (going to an all women's college, being in major relationship with a woman from a different culture, and reading excessively are the most obvious culprits). Anyway, I respect everything that's been said. I hope to not come off as if I'm on the attack.

sean socco said...

@all, but especially @Ryan,

I definitely don't feel attacked, even though I kinda expected someone to take issue with me describing the skull servants who took to the internets to attack Akron/Family as "an army of homoerotic kiss asses" who jerk off to the skull :)

As for honing in on the issue of monetary value of art/music, at the risk of hijacking Nolan's blog entry here, I think it is (along with misogyny and homophobia) the key issue here, and the one most open for legitimate debate. I think it's also been debated by anarchists and artists for at least a century without consensus, but I think we are in the middle of a massive change in the context of that debate.

I stand by my distinction that music is different than food, instruments, and iPods in the sense that those are all tangible items that can't be replicated ad infinitum in the digital world. And like I said, I think records, cassettes, cds etc. should cost a little money. But the ability to replicate music digitally gives music an opportunity to be part of a whole new way of sharing made possible by computers and mobile devices. it is, to my mind, the absolute greatest thing in the world about computers. I think of Hakim Bey writing that he judges the quality of a sociopolitical change by how well it improves the quality of the food he eats. For me it would be the quality of my music collection and that has improved exponentially because music has been successfully liberated from capitalism by modern day pirates.

On the other hand, I think music IS a lot like romantic/sexual partners. We develop those relationships out of love and mutual satisfaction. For me the same is true of music. I play shows and record and share music because I love it and because I and my audience get mutual satisfaction out of it. People who bring money into romantic relationships are called gold diggers or pimps, neither of which are things I think anyone should be proud of. I think same of music. Trying to make money off your audience makes you a gold digger. Or in punk terms, a sellout.

I also think it's very bad for the longevity of musicians to try to make money. It leads to endless frustrations. When I think of which musicians I know that have been happily playing in the scene for 20+ years, they are pretty much all people who never tried to make a career out of music or did for a little while and then decided it was too much hassle, got day jobs, maybe started families, and kept on playing for the love of it. No money necessary. On the other hand, when I think of people who stuck to the idea they were gonna "make it" as musicians? Not a single one of them still playing. If the best we can expect for the vast majority of bands is to make barely enough money for food and gas to get us to the next city on a tour, then we're saying pretty much no one over 30 should be in a band, which is an issue that's been brought up elsewhere on this blog. And if we're happy with only a few bands "making it" we're falling back into that whole rock star / music industry crap punk was supposed to save us from. So clearly the economic status quo in the punk scene is not working for us and so I have not regrets blowing it off.

to be continued...

sean socco said...


On the other hand, I think, Ryan, that you bring up a great point about myspace, scion, and companies like that profiting off the scene through advertising. It's been on my mind a lot as I try to figure out whether or not I want my music on facebook, bandcamp, and/or spotify. You can go to suffeirngluna.com and I put up a music player that has our discography. The discography has been put up on a bunch of mp3 blogs. So why do I need those other guys leeching off me? Well, because I first heard Robocop because I went through every release on grindcore karaoke and had a blast doing it. If the owners of bandcamp are getting rich off that, well shame on them, but I'm not gonna avoid grindcore karaoke because of it, and in fact, I think our next release is gonna be on GK. And same for Spotify. Yeah someone's getting rich off it, but damn if I don't love having all that music at the touch of a button and don't wish there was more underground music there, too. Anyways, I'm still trying to figure this out myself.

Anyways, what does this have to do with the skull? I agree with everything Nolan wrote above, however I think he skipped over this very important subtext to the whole thing. I think this whole Akron/Family thing is intricately tied to the fact that the internet has put us in entirely uncharted territory regarding ownership and art and music. All the old rules are out. I think we all agree that the tanking of the major label music business is a good thing but we're not sure what it means for us here in the underground. In fact the whole idea of an underground is being made irrelevant by the horizontality of the web. So even though this thing is about t-shirts and record cover art, I think it's also part of a broader hand wringing on the question of who we are now? Anyways, I'm rooting for music lovers not music professionals.

p.s. I totally agree that we need some real quality control in digital releases! Especially in the noise and grind categories.

p.p.s. We, as a scene or whatever, gotta stop dodging / procrastinating on this whole sexual violence thing. Maybe I'll start a blog specifically about that and invite you guys to comment.

p.p.p. s. Did you see Aaron refer to the skull here as a sigil? I'll take that as either a nod to my comment or as "great minds think alike" :) https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dtZkowJV8_wmiFgJ89IHv2rv_-OpYBXLZUu9H4sSRMc/edit

Anonymous said...

Kenyon speaks out:


There seems to have been some concern over the use of the M.I.T.B. logo by Akron/Family; This should have never have been a problem.

I am writing this not only to clear up the misunderstanding with Akron/Family, but also as an attempt to articulate M.I.T.B.’s philosophical stance in the light of the unnecessary conflict. Since the dissolution of M.I.T.B. as a performing group, I have stayed out of any public debate about issues concerning the group’s philosophy, even when I have had to answer for the views of others; In this case I feel compelled to speak up. There have been many statements made in the “Bastard” name that I disagree with, not just because these statements don’t correspond with my version of the groups ideals, but also because they are poorly articulated, philosophically baseless and smack of contradiction. This situation goes beyond one man being upset because someone used his trademark to make money, because it highlights issues of intellectual property rights, underground commerce and reciprocity in the scene. M.I.T.B. always stood for community, consciousness and the free exchange of ideas and this attack on Akron/Family does not represent that stance.

The levels of irony in this situation are numerous to the point of being comical. In my opinions, disputes over fair use and ownership seem antithetical to what the group’s philosophy is all about. M.I.T.B. had many influences and appropriated and re-contextualized material at will. The “logo” itself was simply stolen from a book. (One need only look at early Swans or Crass albums to see where we borrowed some of our graphic inspiration from.) All art can be a form of theft and punk was meant to be more so. (Imagine Crass coming after ever garage screen printer who ever made a dollar off of their logo.) There have always been many parodies of the M.I.T.B. logo and they have always represented a form of artistic exchange and interplay. The fact that people have embraced the concept and made it their own is complimentary; I take this phenomenon with all of the benefits and draw backs it comes with.

It goes without saying that if one’s Sigil is stolen and used to negative ends, something should be done, but this is clearly not the case with the Akron/Family shirt - or with any other group that re-contextualizes a logo (Actually, calling the skull image a “logo” emphasizes the fact that it is functioning as a “Trade Mark” used primarily for commerce, and issues of commerce are the last things M.I.T.B. should be concerned with).

I respect Akron/Family. The group’s incorporation of spiritual principles and iconography in their work is commendable. I purchased the Akron/Family record and I thought the cover – with its many skull “logos”- was fun; I recognized a kinship and felt the sense of homage right off. The use of the logo on the t-shirt is no different to me. This dispute could have been handled with simple dialogue and understanding.

Synthesizing an academically valid (and hopefully exemplary), socio-political/artistic stance and using it to effect some kind of change was always one of the driving motivations for my being involved with the group; so I take any stance by it’s members that in any way soils it’s collective “legacy” very seriously. If there is anything that M.I.T.B. did that could influence, inspire or be used by others towards the good…more power to the people. Art consciously exchanged embodies the new civility.

Tee Hee

P.S. If I had any advice for any band or screen printer that wants to use a bands logo to make a product: Try asking the band, or try to sending the band a shirt or whatever as a thank you and sign of respect.

Survivalist said...

well sean, thanks for completely stealing my thunder for the next two posts i had planned to do in the near (ish...) future

what sean's eloquent post does not describe is that, very much like myself, he works a job that while he's not particularly enamoured with it, it gives him a better sense of being in the world than just flipping burgers.

And its a job he (much like myself) has had had to spend a lot of time positioning himself into so he's not going to throw it away. This is why i've never been in a position, or mindset, to tour for more than a few weeks here and there relatively close to home.

Consequently the two of us approach music less as some get-out-of-the-jail-of-your-life-free card and more as a complementary approach to our lives in general. I suspect that sean's involvement in music influences his work life and philosphy and his work life influences his interactions in music in much the same way that mine does.

Regarding Kenyon's input:

This is a hugely important piece of the situation, but it fails to address two points.

One, the skull sigil hasn't been something active in Kenyon's life for what, 15 years at this point? So he's going to have a different opinion

and two, here's the biggie, it's no secret that Wood and Kenyon are not calling each other up to chat about the old days and go out for the occasional beer and pizza together.

Which is not to discount anything he says, because i don't disagree with anything he says here, but just to put it into some kind of context as to why Wood would be more pissed (he's still using the sigil)

Now Kenyon just needs to get that Lux Nova Umbra Est stuff out there so i can finally retire the scratched demo CDR i've had forever

dj needledick said...

i have uploaded a few MITB videos to www.youtube.com/tombrider666

Ryan Page said...

Thank you both for the level headed and interesting discussion. There are a few points I wanted to make about my perspective. I think it may be useful in illustrating why I've come to the position I'm in where I look as a greedy sell-out, or as one messageboard punk put it "whoa dude ur like the powerviolence nazi":

I'm not as hard line in my position as I come across as. I've never made money from my music (or, more correctly it has always been a net loss), and I'm content to give it away (hence GK and Bandcamp, although I would disagree with analogies to myspace in its business model even if bandcamp is often experienced in a similar way), so any talk about money is purely speculative. I'm not someone who has ever had much money, and I'm very much ok with the possibility of that never changing. I think my greatest motivation is that ideas about money are unquestioned in punk, and I think its useful to question stock responses (Sean, I could see that very much applying to the homophobia/misogyny discussion as well). I don't mean this to simply be contrarian, but while accepting that there are a multitude of answers. I find that arguing a perspective helps to formulate alternative perspectives.

I have a tendency to view cultural trends as responsive to technological change. I find it disturbing that our epistemology is defined by what is technologically accessible at the moment. This is the main reason I take issue with the idea that simply because something is free and accessible, it is supposed to be that way. Neil Postman was very influential in forming my early perspective on media, and one of his concepts I think is very applicable. He points out that technology is inherently a faustian bargain, which brings something important, but through the same gesture always takes something away. Historically, I don't think we've been as suspicious as we could have been as to what the costs are and if how they relate to the benefits.

If something is easy, it becomes more likely to inspire thoughtless action, than in the case of something that requires effort. Postman illustrates this with regard to the Telegraph, and the glut of useless information that arose in its wake. I think the same thing applies to the Akron/Family situation. If their bass player actually had to physically acquire the Crass font, and physically assemble the shirt, I have a feeling he might have reconsidered the relevance the skull had to his band. Instead we have a reference made on the internet as a joke initially, slowly shifting in its use.

Ryan Page said...

While, I appreciate where you are coming from in your posts, I think there are, to my mind a few points which are somewhat spotty. The idea of tangibility, I find a bit misguided. For example, television has been coming, free, into television sets for nearly three quarters of a century, and I can't imagine anyone would think of it as liberated from capitalism. It simply became a vessel for a mutated form of it. The other problem with this is that whether something is physically manifest is generally less important than its affect on us.

The reason i specifically brought up the ipod is that it very ironically demonstrates that point. Where I live now (in Oakland, CA), people are getting murdered for these things. They don't do anything besides move between menus unless you have content to fill them up. That's the point that really sticks for me, its clearly the combination of the objects and content that produces something so highly valued. I think it took about five years for people to forget that.

Even if my argument isn't particularly convincing to you, perhaps, at the very least, you can empathize with the stress that an unbalanced system puts on people who invest themselves completely in an aspect of it that is nearly completely devalued (perhaps you feel it yourself).

I don't necessarily view my place playing in a power violence band as valuable as that of a janitor (or as a personal care assistant for sick and dying individuals which is a job I am more familiar with), but I think there is some sense that what we are doing is helpful to someone. I personally find the argument that "music is invaluable, therefore should be removed from money" to be a bit of a copout. You could conceivably say the same thing about anything, but the reality is that we put a value on everything, and if we're being honest, music itself isn't particularly valued.

I'm not denying that downloading music is great. I love it. There are so many albums I would never be able to get otherwise. My problem is that I feel, quite contrary to the ideals of punk (subjectively defined and which I would never categorize myself as), that free media is pacifying us, as the rich concentrate their wealth, and moronic websites like MetalSucks tell us how cool spotify is,or how its lame to make money off music (which they of course do, at little cost to either service).

Ultimately I think my point has less to do with money that it does with this encroaching sense of being fucked over. The Tom Sawyer analogy basically describes how I feel. I think the punk rock ideology of free music is being used to distract us from the fact that we are being exploited. Perhaps I'm paranoid, but I don't really think music is going to be free in the same way for long. Megaupload went down a week ago, and mediafire has been deleting a huge portion of its content.

The last thing I wanted to say about money is in response to making money of your audience. I think its useful to be careful here. Its a complicated situation where it is only possible with their help to do things like go on tour, etc, and selling things is often the only way to do that, unless you're independently wealthy. Its not a matter of a few bands "making it", if things are handled properly. I think it would be nice if the best bands from every scene would be able to tour a bit, and make a little money off of it. There could potentially be thousands of bands doing this.

Can't believe this is so long... continued:

Ryan Page said...
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Ryan Page said...

What I feel is easily ignored is that while bands who are in it to get signed to Roadrunner or something equally as shitty almost never last, most of the bands that do last 10, 20 years aren't doing anything particularly interesting or contributing anything to the musical/cultural landscape. I think the fact that scenes are controlled by these people, and the kids first coming out to shows are often indoctrinated by bands like, in the case of Maine, USA Waste (look them up and see what I mean) ultimately has a negative impact on the scene. If not via money (and the increased ability to book shows, tour, record that goes with it), we need to find some way to "throw out christ and bring back thor" or we're going to be perpetuating no talent, no thought hackery. I agree with Andrew's post about the perpetually young scene, but I also think if you're 40 and your perspective hasn't evolved at all (which is different from playing similar music and holding similar viewpoints), it may not be much different that having a bunch of 15 year olds.

And that's really it. It probably all boils down to being sick of hypocrisy, and sick of people using the fact that they're not making money from music as an excuse to crank out generic useless music. Andrew and I have discussed the usefulness of the confines of genre, but at the same time I'd be pretty happy if I didn't have to sit through a badly written "oi oi oi fuck the pigz" song again.

Anyway, I'm pretty feverish, and I've rewritten this a few times, and it still doesn't make much sense to me... sorry, I felt you deserved a response at the very least.

ps, I couldn't make a post that rambling without mentioning that I don't want to dodge the conversation about sexual violence/homophobia. I'm very willing to have that conversation, it figures into much of what I write. With regard to Akron/Family, there's not much more I can say that I personally called people out on the homophobia, and I'm not ok with it.


Well said as usual.