Dee Dee Di Dee Di Doe Doe…etc." Roger Miller's song from Disney's
animated feature "Robin Hood" is the soundtrack to the "Hampster
Dance" which we've all seen on the web (complete with misspelling).
Haven't seen it? It's at www.hampsterdance2.com
point is, I doubted seriously if Mr Miller's estate was getting
a penny. For those of you too young to remember, Roger Miller wrote
some great classics in the sixties. Go get his "Greatest Hits" album
and take a lesson in lyric and phrasing.
actually got a reply from the "Hampton Hampster" website that says
that they are now paying Sony to use the music and they now credit
Roger Miller on the CD. But they didn't at first. It was just music
they liked so they used it.
past few months have seen an incredibly polarizing debate about
"free" music on the web. Courtney Love and Lars Ulrich have somehow
appointed themselves spokespeople. (This is scary!! How did THEY
get put in charge?) Too bad Frank Zappa's not around to make a better
case for the artists. It makes it look like millionaires are picking
on college kids who just want a little music to ease the tensions
of dorm life and get through finals with the comfort of their favorite
of course the problem is, some of us have written some of those
tunes, and although we love writing and would do it (and have done
it) for free, there is something called our livelihood at stake
here. Those of us who depend on royalties to pay the health insurance
for our kids are not that thrilled with this massive wholesale,
what shall I call it? …theft?
Fanning, the Massachusetts teenager whose high school nickname was
"The Napster" because of his nappy hair, has changed the world forever.
And not just music, but all kinds of intellectual property. His
software enables computers to search the files of other computers
to find and transmit data, whatever it may be, but it's gained notoriety
because of the thousands of music downloads. This means that if
you thought you might some day make a living from your music, you
should forget about it right now, and become a programmer. One of
the interesting sidelights to Fanning's story is that he worked
almost without stopping to sleep or eat for days and days in order
to write this code for fear that someone else would beat him to
it and his whole idea wouldn't have been his anymore. DUH?
he does understand the concept of proprietary rights and ownership
of intellectual property, just so long as it's his. But he thinks
yours and mine are for all the world to share for free.
know that there are many who say "free content on the web" and feel
that because it's possible to have a free exchange of information
that it's inevitable. To that I say "Horsefeathers!!" Just because
you CAN do something doesn't mean it's okay. I could run you over
with my car if I felt like it, but I don't think you'd enjoy it
much. Or how about if I came over and took valuable things from
your living room and peed on the rug before I left? I could you
know. Just because you CAN do something doesn't make it right. Would
you walk into Tower and shoplift a CD?
basic copyright laws we go by in "Western Civilization" were codified
in 1909. Find a copy of Mark Twain's autobiography and read his
thoughts on the law. It's priceless. He was in his mid-seventies
then and was hoping to pass his copyrights on as part of his estate,
but in those days authors' copyrights reverted to publishers upon
their death. That meant the authors' families could not continue
to collect the royalties. If you're a writer this must sound NUTS.
But it's true. It's also why any writer who could manage it, and
Twain did, also became a publisher. It's also why the laws have
since been written as they are, so that material, such as your songs,
don't become "public domain" until 70 years after your death. If
you owned almost any other kind of income property you could pass
it on to your heirs. Now at least a generation or two after you
can still be compensated for your work. That's a fairly recent change
(thank you Sonny Bono). It used to be only 56 years total, so that
songwriters such as Irving Berlin who lived to be over 100 years
old, actually outlived their copyrights and while they were still
alive were forbidden by law from collecting royalties on the classics
they had written. Of course, he too was a publisher (and founding
member of ASCAP).
after nearly a century of writers fighting to retain control of
copyrights and the royalties they generate, along comes this dude
with his software program and it's all over. In 1862, Stephen Foster,
one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, whose songs are
still sung every day (Oh! Susanna, Camptown Races, etc) died penniless.
There was no royalty-collecting infrastructure in place in those
days. Now, thanks to Napster, the same could happen to you, no matter
how popular your songs are, because all the royalty collecting infrastructure
has just been over-ridden.
will be sorted out in the courts after a while, but in the meantime,
I wouldn't release anything new if I were you, unless you're just
doing it to gain a name for yourself. Chances are, the money you
thought you might make on your art will not materialize. This is
why almost everything new in the immediate future will be more than
likely "disposable pop"- -kiddie stuff- -nothing with any staying
power. The kind of stuff Napster users wouldn't bother to listen
to or download. We'll see.
few months the National Association of Music Merchandisers sets
up their trade-show booths in one or another of the major music
meccas- -Los Angeles, Nashville, etc. Local hipsters perform on
all the new equipment. Name artists show up to endorse certain product
lines. Everyone tries to prognosticate the coming trends. Music
retailers try to predict what to order for their showrooms and music
stores. What will you want to buy next year?
of the music hardware will include RAVE MP2200, a portable MP3 player
with about two hours of music memory; eGo, which is designed for
use in your car and will also play about two hours worth of music;
WMP-1V WRIST AUDIO PLAYER, which you wear like a watch and plays
about thirty minutes of music through headphones. And many more.
You'll be able to download all kinds of content and play it back
anywhere. But what will that content be? Who will pay?
you still buy CDs? Yes, for a few years, but not forever. They will
eventually gather dust alongside your eight-tracks and 78s.
copyrights be a thing of the past? Not a chance. But for a while,
until the courts decide, and encryption becomes standardized, you
may not get a whole lot of new quality music, unless you write it
yourself and just play it for friends.
the best you might get is "Dee Dee Dee Di Dee Di Doe Doe…" and that's
"Doe", but not real DOUGH.