Posts Tagged ‘P2P Foundation’

Bandcamp | P2P Foundation

December 27, 2014

The surprise is not that artists use bandcamp, the surprise is that they use anything else.

Jewelia acoustic set Staycation Live 2014

singer-songwriter Jewelia acoustic set Staycation Live 2014

Great music is priceless, bad music is worthless. — Steve Lawson

The best way to support an artist is to pay then directly. — Ethan Diamond

When I am at a live music festival for example Staycation Live and the musicians tell the crowd to find them on iTunes I groan, when they tell the crowd to find them on spotify I want to scream out loud.

Why oh why, are they sending people to sites where everyone gets ripped off, where everyone gets a raw deal?

Amazon or iTunes, take a big cut, iTunes even charges for being there, spotify you do not even want to go down that sewer. The least said about spotify the better, other than major record labels have a stake and artists receive a pittance.

Bandcamp by contrast, takes somewhere between ten and fifteen per cent. It used to be a straight thirteen per cent.

With Amazon, a few seconds lofi sample. That is to insult both the musicians and those wishing to listen. How can you judge a piece of music in a few seconds except maybe to reject as unbelievably bad?

On the other hand on bandcamp, can listen to entire album in reasonable quality mp3 128.

Bandcamp was co-founded by Ethan Diamond as a site for musicians.

The principle behind bandcamp is if you want to support musicians then pay them directly, not pay a global corporation in the hope that something trickles down to the artists.

Two years ago, I found few artists knew about bandcamp, now I am finding more and more do, and it offers both them and their fans a very good deal. And yet what is strange, they are still directing fans anywhere other than bandcamp, even when they themselves are on bandcamp.

It is not only they and their fans, by directing to bandcamp, they benefit all the other independent artists who are on bandcamp.

If you have the resources to record an album and if not, play a few gigs, crowd source, then you do not need a record label.

Sometimes artists have their own kludgy media player on their website. Why re-invent an inferior wheel, when you can embed bandcamp media player?

From the perspective of the fans, you can listen to an album on-line, the entire album in reasonable quality mp3 128 unlike Amazon or iTunes where all you get is a few seconds lofi sample.

Download is easy. And can download hifi not lofi, mp3 320, or better still studio quality non-lossy FLAC.

Fans can choose to pay more. Many do. Jewelia recently reported someone paying £30 for an album listed at £5 (or maybe it was for the free download).

Monsters her début album, limited edition signed copy or digital download.

snapshot of bandcamp sales

snapshot of bandcamp sales

Artists set a low price, sometimes free, leaving fans to pay more if they wish. Because fans are not being ripped off, because they know the money is going to the artist, they quite happily pay more.

Selling Right Now: Monsters sold for £25, £20 over the asking price.

Selling Right Now: Monsters sold for £25, £20 over the asking price.

Selling Right Now: The Kitchen Table sold for £16, £7 over asking price.

Selling Right Now: The Kitchen Table sold for £16, £7 over asking price.

Bandcamp has a very unusual feature. What is selling is shown in real time, including how much is being paid over and above the asking price. This is in addition to a listing of the top selling albums.

Artists get the data.

Bandcamp is a model of how websites should be.

Bandcamp is not backed by venture capitalists. It is not supported by advertising or abuse of personal data. It is supported by the music community.

Because of the way bandcamp works, especially its sharing button, word, essentially word of mouth, spreads laterally, or in other words peer to peer.

In essence this is the gift economy, sharing, collaborative economy at work.

If you like a piece of music or an artist, you spread word of mouth using social media.

Those who like, will spread the word, they may download, they may toss some money by the way of the artist, they may attend a gig.

Serendipity plays a part, as people stumble across something they may like, or a friend may tell them, or share with them. I stumbled across Quantic whilst writing this article on bandcamp.

The important aspect here is sharing.

Those who share, do not get anything out of it, thus a gift, but the artist may benefit through their collaboration. The artist will then feel it is a viable way to earn a living, and do what they wish to do, play and produce more music.

Everyone has a stake in the outcome.

It would be an interesting social experiment, having mentioned Jewelia, what difference she sees.

The big record labels hate the internet, they complain of piracy, criminalise those who wish to listen to music.

Bandcamp turns this on its head, far from seeing the internet as bad, sees as a force for good, the means to share music.

If I listen or download music for free, no one has lost out. On the other hand, if I like, I may buy, I may attend a gig, I may tell others. In other words an opportunity has been created.

And it is a truism, I cannot like a piece of music until I have heard it. Through sharing, makes it more likely to hear it.

Those artists who only make available a few seconds lofi sample, or in too many cases, nothing at all, are not doing themselves or their fans any favours.

Hope & Social make their music available for free for digital downlands, the productions costs for a CD. They do not get ripped off. Turn up to one of their gigs, buy a CD, you set the price.

Cotton Wool and Knotted Wood a beautiful magical live acoustic album from Hope & Social is on a pay-what-you-think-it-is-worth or what-you-can-afford model. For CD it is minimum price of what the CD costs to produce (plus shipping).

Cellist Zoe Keating published her accounts on-line, to enable people to see a breakdown of her income.

  • iTunes 32,170 single tracks and 3,862 albums netted her just over $38,195
  • Bandcamp 185 tracks and 2,899 albums netted her $25,575
  • Amazon mixture of physical and mp3 earned her $11,571
  • Spotify 403,035 streams earned her $1,764

Apple keeps 30% of iTunes sales, bandcamp takes a 10% cut of sales.

On bandcamp, albums considerably outsell tracks.

Jazz pianist and composer Will Todd is a classic of how not to.

I happened upon a rehearsal in a church for a concert that evening. A large poster for Lux Et Veritas. Had Will Todd been around I may have bought a copy of Lux Et Veritas. I was told he would be there in the evening. I checked out his website. Big record label outmoded thinking stamped all over it. Snippets of videos, lofi mp3 samples. This does absolutely no justice to the works of Will Todd and is an insult to those who may like and wish to listen to his music. He is not doing himself any favours.

What is the point, releasing music, then making it difficult to listen to?

Were I a radio producer, not a writer, they would be beating a path to my door asking to be put on my play list.

Very strange, musicians release music, which one would suspect they wish one to listen to, then make it difficult if not impossible to listen to.

Going back to the musicians telling the crowd where to find them, this time they say find us on bandcamp.

This makes a huge difference. Because of sharing, anyone who finds them, can click share, and immediately share with their friends, hey this is who I saw, they were great, word spreads. Or they may write about them and embed the bandcamp media player. Why write about music if no one can listen to what you are writing about? That would be as dumb as writing about a book or an author and not citing a few passages. Or writing about a work of art without a picture.

Although bandcamp is a centralised site not peer to peer per se, how it works in practice is peer to peer. There is lateral communication, and that is the key to the success of bandcamp, enabled by a share button.

We should never underestimate the power of sharing, of word of mouth.

What bandcamp does for music and the spoken word, leanpub does for the written word.

In the sharing economy, collaborative commons, a website should be an enabler that charges a small fee for its role, made self-financing by the users.

Bandcamp and leanpub fulfil that role.

Note: Reposted from P2P Foundation. An expanded version of this article on Medium, with additional examples and extensive notes.

An Open Letter to Pope Francis on the Ethical Economy

April 21, 2014
unMonastery, Matera, Italy

unMonastery, Matera, Italy

Dear Pope Francis,

I write to you as a cultural Catholic moved by admiration for the Christian values and how they have been embodied by social change activists such as Ivan Illich, E.F. Schumacher, Paulo Freire, and profound and provocative thinkers such as Marshall McLuhan and Bruno Latour.

I write to you as someone who has been honoured twice by invitations from the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, where I learned about the beautiful and balanced set of ideas that are the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church and could interact with many interesting Catholic-inspired thinkers, from different sides of the political spectrum, yet open to each other’s ideas in a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood.

I write to you as well as an admirer of the cooperativism that is inspired by the social doctrine, such as the cooperative network of Mondragon, the ideas of Stefano Zamagni and many others.

I write to you as the founder of the Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives, and one of the founding partners of the Commons Strategies group, as someone who is deeply connected with emerging new productive practices based on peer to peer relationships, the creation of common pools of knowledge for the benefit of the whole of humanity, and of sharing economy practices that are based on the re-use of many idle resources that could benefit more citizens while lightening the load of humanity on our planet.

FLOK Society

FLOK Society

Finally, I write to you as the research coordinator of an ambitious transition project in Ecuador, FLOK Society, which is advising the public authorities on moving towards a society and economy that is fully based on shared knowledge.

In this context, I am of course very, very heartened by the recent statements of your Holiness about the need to care for the poor and weak, and to be mindful of the excesses of capitalism, but also from authoritarian collectivism.

I am aware of the key role that the Catholic Church has played in the moral economy of the Middle Ages, and how many Catholics, individually or collectively as members of Congregations and Catholic social movements, are engaged for the Common Good. I am inspired by historical examples such as the Banks of Piety of the Dominicans, which lend money without interest to the poor, and drove out usury-driven banking from their territories.

Yet, as many humans, I am also concerned about our human future. We presently live in a system which believes natural resources are infinite, and we are destroying the very eco-systems on which we depend; and the same system believes that knowledge that could benefit humanity should be restricted and kept artificially scarce, through Intellectual Property restrictions that slow down innovation, hide solutions until they are believed to be profitable, and sell vital medicines at inflated prices, amongst many other issues.

But I am also heartened by the emergence of new modes of creating and distributing value, and on the many peer-based and commons-oriented communities that are mutualizing knowledge, so that it can benefit all; and mutualizing physical infrastructures and resources, so that we may step lighter on the planet. These emergent movements and practices are vital for the future of our planet, and I strongly believe they need Your help! At the end of the era of the Roman Empire, it was the Catholic monks, who mutualized both material infrastructure and knowledge, and functioned as European-wide open design communities, and were crucial in reviving European societies.

The Catholic Church, despite the difficulties due to secularization in Western countries, still has many vital resources. Sometimes, these resources are sold to the marketplace, which may use these in inappropriate ways, such as for examples using abandoned Churches and Monasteries for commercial purposes, for hotels and entertainment venues, but also including sometimes directly related to real-estate speculation.

At the same time, the younger generations of people, and I believe we have a beautiful generation that is concerned and engaged with the Common Good, are willing to create a new type of community, where work and resources are mutualized, and where they use their personal skills and resources, to work for the Common Good, through projects associated with social entrepreneurship, fair trade, peer production and the creation of vital commons of knowledge, code and design which are made universally available for all who need them. There are already quite a number of makerspaces, hackerspaces, co-working spaces and open manufacturing centers for open and sustainable technologies, but we need many more of them, and the reality of real-estate speculation makes many projects unnecessarily difficult to realize.

Indeed, this vital movement of humanity’s young (and not so young) is in search of common places where they can engage in meaningful activities for the common good, yet, the reality of the current economy often means they are precarious, they cannot afford urban rents that are driven by real estate speculation, and often real estate prices make the mutualization of the workplace a very difficult endeavour.

Some of our friends want to go further and have already taken on monastery projects to revitalize our world with ecumenical projects such as the ‘unMonastery’ project in Matera, Italy.

Gorton Monastery, Manchester

Gorton Monastery, Manchester

The Gorton Monastery, previously a Franciscan church and friary, in a deprived neighbourhood of Manchester, England. Deconsecrated and left by the Church, it was abandoned and devastated by the weather, theft and vandalism. It has since been restored by the Monastery of St. Francis and Gorton Trust, and once again brings Franciscan values to its community. The recently established Monastery Foundation is leading in thought and action to support personal and organisational transition: the move from old ways of working and living to those required for today and tomorrow.”

Another one is the Uniting Church’s congregation known as the ‘Augustine Centre’, which has been active for many years in the personal development and creative expression fields; it is now known as the Habitat Centre for Spirituality and has hosted the Borderlands Cooperative for the last 12 years. Together they have created a holistic post-graduate course of education, called the ‘oases Graduate School’, offering a Master’s Degree in Sustainability and Social Change, based on the understanding that education needs to be integrative of many disciplines and that it needs to lead to the transformation of all our ways of living and being. An accompanying range of other events, short courses and activities have been created, the place now becoming known for its ecological and social engagement.

These new practices are recreating the moral economy of the future, and could learn from the moral economy of the past, when the Church played such a vital role. On the other hand, by engaging with these vital forces that are changing our society and civilization, the Church would also learn about the new spiritual needs that are co-emerging from these practices.

So the new movement would benefit from Your Assistance, and I am therefore making this proposal and appeal.

Why not think about the repurposing of unused Church property, for precisely the recreation of a moral and ethical economy? Why not create mechanisms for the creation of common hackerspaces, makerspaces, co-working spaces, where the common endeavours can take place in a meaningful and spiritualized space?

My hope is that the forces of the Catholic Church, may start thinking about using resources to assist the Great and necessary Transformation that is starting to take place today.

As my Catholic friend and ethical investor Dr. Johnny Spangenberg writes, warning of humanity’s mistaken admiration for false Gods:

We create catastrophic climate risk and trigger natural disaster by destroying the very ecosystems on which we depend — All in the name of the worldly Gods of GDP & EBITDA growth and with disregard for the needs or the poor or vulnerable ecosystems. KeyStone XL Pipeline is a recent example of such a controversial megaproject in which the long-run welfare of the human race is sacrificed for short-term economic interest. …

Dr. Spangenberg also mentions a way forward which is similar to the proposed approach of mutualized working spaces, but expanded to the scale of a village:

The Regen-Villages — an innovative collaboration between Stanford University, Danish Technical University and the University of Malaysia Pahang (amongst others) aim to rapidly create modern and comfortable integrated villages around the world that can feed and power themselves. As an urgent call to action to combat economic inequality, RV focus is on thriving rural and sub-urban villages that will run on renewable energy and high-yield organic food production, creating a surplus for thriving, self-sustaining communities. RV also brings curriculum into these villages, while fostering the export of innovation and ingenuity out of these villages.

Therefore, we believe that the transformation discussed above, which requires spaces for meaningful and sustainable work, is vital to save our planet and humanity, and vital for the future of the Church.

We are, of course, not in the position to demand anything, this is not our purpose, but we humbly suggest starting a dialogue on how the Church can support the forces for practical and moral regeneration of our failing economic system. One of our key concerns and proposals would be to find a proper purpose for the religious buildings that are presently unused, and we believe that creating meaning collective workplaces is one of these.”

We are very thankful for any attention that this letter may generate.

Michel Bauwens, Commons Strategies Group and P2P Foundation

The general idea and proposition in this letter are endorsed by the following groups and individuals:

  • David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, Commons Strategies Group, co-editors of ‘The Wealth of the Commons”
  • Hasnah Ismail — Senior Consultant Fellow, Putra Business School & Director, Might-Meteor Advanced Manufacturing, Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia.
  • James Ehrlich — Senior Technologist, Stanford University — Human Sciences Technologies Advanced Research Institute (H-STAR), Stanford: USA.
  • Giovanni Luchetti — Representative of Harvard Business Review — World Investment News, New York: USA.
  • Marco Fioretti — Founder of the Catholic free software / digital rights movt Eeleutheros *
  • Francois Houtart — Fundacion Indigena / IAEN — Quito, Ecuador.
  • Johnny Spangenberg — CEO & Founder, GeoSayang ClimateRiskBonds, New York: USA.

Published by P2P Foundation.

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