Thursday, March 06, 2008

NIN == PBS, The Future of Ideas

Okay, so I was working this weekend, so I didn't hear about the new Nine Inch Nails album until monday, so it was too late to drop $300 on the deluxe edition, if I was so inclined. Instead, I fell asleep on the sofa watching KCTS Cooks Breakfast. I have pledged to PBS a couple times, always at the lowest level, and always for the geeky Red Dwarf t-shirt. For the most part, however, I experience PBS without supporting PBS.

Free Stuff - Lawrence Lessig's The Future of Ideas has recently become available through a Creative Commons license - thank you Lawrence Lessig and Creative Commons, and thank you Random House for releasing the text from copyright. While The Future of Ideas may necessarily seem dated in places, it is evident from a rereading how pertinent these ideas still are, and how they have evolved from Code to Code v2; technologically, it is now the future, but the cultural spaces which Lessig continues to explore are much broader than the technologies supporting these spaces.

If I do download Ghosts I-IV, it will be the same situation; I will support it only with my eardrums, not my wallet. However, there are 2500 people who are supporting Nine Inch Nails at the "corporate level", and there $300 a pop adds up to a decent $750,000. Wow, thanks!

more free stuff - My broken iPod has been spinning the prerelease from the new Nada Surf album for months now. Lucky has now officially hit the shelves, and it delivers on the promise of "See these bones." The album is also available as a full album stream for a limited time, so you can get taste the whole, rather than the bite-sized morsels that even indie radio portion out. I'm curious, though; I remember REM promoting an album with a full album stream, and I remember Neil Young streaming his Living with War album, in this case, an act of protest. Streaming a full album enacts something different from releasing a single through the regular channels; I wonder if this act will lose its impact over time as the practice becomes more commonplace.

I think the future of music will be a movement in this direction, which is really just a realisation of the fact that some people are prepared to pay more than others, many people are prepared to carry around the long tail, and the majority of people are free to listen to the radio. And the people who are really driving this movement are the local bands, who have no reason not to give things away, and the NIN's and Radioheads, who can afford to do whatever they please, really.