New York Times: “David Lowery Represents the Anger of Musicians In the Internet Age…”

Because the tech industry still hasn’t innovated a way to shut up David Lowery.



Which brings us to a high-profile, 1,200 word profile by Ben Sisario of the New York Times.  And more importantly, another highly-inconvenient spotlight on massive artist compensation and content devaluation issues.

This is the charismatic leader that could create serious damage for Pandora, Spotify, Google, and ilk.  “Lowery has become a celebrity among musicians for speaking out about artists’ shrinking paychecks and the influence of Silicon Valley over copyright, economics and public discourse,” Sisario pens.


“In public appearances and no-holds-barred blog posts, Mr. Lowery, 53, has come to represent the anger of musicians in the digital age.”


The complete article, well worth reading, is here.

33 Responses

  1. Visitor

    Lowery and others who represent the actual interests of artists seem to be noticably absent from events like SFMUSICTECH, although it was that very conference that may have launched Lowery out of obscurity and into the spotlight with his 2012 presentation “New Boss, Worse Than The Old Boss.”

    If would be nice to see more balanced discourse insted of the tech(dirt) blogosphere of Google funded shills and fronts that masqurade as public policy.

    • FarePlay

      Has the conversation changed? After, over a decade of abuse are working artists finally getting the respect and understanding they’ve earned? No, I’m not talking rich, limo riding rock stars, but rather talented family men who in today’s world struggle with car repairs and dental bills for their kids.
      All one needs to do is read the comments from this NYT article and be, well………… blown away.
      Has there finally been enough pain that musicians are at least speaking out to their friends about how unfair things are and the basic problems with a for-profit industry that includes some of the biggest players in the world abusing the work of artists to make lots of money?
      Has the dream that the internet would benefit everyone by breaking down the doors of access and control, only to be replaced by a new boss who is actually worse?
      Is the pirate revolution really about getting everything free without a second thought about anybody else?
      Did the emperor really have any clothes at all or was this unregulated free-for-all just to easy pass up?

  2. Visitor

    “Because the tech industry still hasn’t innovated a way to shut up David Lowery”
    We’re working on it.

    • FarePlay

      Unsurprisingly, the conversation has been hijacked (see below), so let me try and inject some direction into the conversation.
      None of the current digital funding models, piracy (piracy does work for the site operators quite well), touring, t-shirt sales, streaming, do anything to significantly ensure that talented mid-level artists will surivive as full-time or almost full-time professionals focused on their craft >> Far too many minimally talented hobbyists who are thrilled that they have an audience or an aunt in Anchorage who loves their music, are indignant that someone should actually ask to get paid for their work.
      We haven’t found any viable pro-artist financial solutions from the current digital offerings, so a comment like Adapt or Luddite really have no value.
      What we do have is a consolidation of wealth from corporate tech companies with a bunch of young adults running around yelling revolution, when nothing could be further from reality.
      The rally call is really, “How dare you even talk about taking my free music away.” Followed by a list of meaningless justification and half truths. At least be honest, “We can take what we want and were going to keep doing it”. We can at least understand that.
      Sadly, I don’t have an answer, but I do know that I love great music and that’s why I’m here almost every day.
      FarePlay is about educating and enlightening people that it is actually to everyone’s best interest to have a vibrant creative community. Life has gotten very expensive and spending a buck or ten to fill your life with some joy or at least distraction is pretty damn cheap.
      So pony up and spend a few dollars every once in awhile. Who knows you might even feel good about it.
      And David Lowery, “Thanks for the Information”

      • Visitor

        Says the guy who uses copyrighted photos on his blog without permission.

  3. FarePlay

    Because of David Lowery, we finally have more musicians stepping forward and talking about their digital rights.

    • Tune Hunter

      I agree – top tier musicians have to unite and put the big gun in to the labels head.
      TIME TO FINISH FREE – music is very easy to sale on line.
      Just built some wall around it!
      Spoofy and Tube in current free and semi-free mode will not generate more than 10 billion in sales. Same traffic would generate 40 billions at just 39 cents / tune.

      • hippydog

        QUOTE “Same traffic would generate 40 billions at just 39 cents / tune.”
        NO IT WONT..
        your “idea” is based on changes to the industry that could only happen in a communist county.. Maybe you should try spamming the russian or chinese version of DMN?

        • Tune Hunter

          You are very pessimistic human or in love with Spoofy.
          Those who can deliver sales are at our disposal.
          The trick is to give them enough cash so they stop free IDs and free tune discovery. The rape will stop and music will have new store with “walls”.
          Available cash is SOOOO BIGGG that there is no chance for whizzzz kids to continue free drift.
          The investors, who feed them, will kick their butts in to adulthood.
          The end of the story!

          • hippydog

            Quote “Those who can deliver sales are at our disposal.”
            “No need for communism – pure business”
            Your ability to contradict yourself in your own reply is humourous to me..
            Quote “The trick is to give them enough cash”
            I’m thinking thats the part your not understanding or somehow skipping in your weird crazy logic.
            The “cash” isnt there for you to give..
            If Shazam started charging people for every time they looked up a song..
            PEOPLE WOULD STOP USING THE SERVICE, they would use another cheaper service or would simply just not use it..
            and if your next statement is “we would make the other service also charge”,
            then it goes back to the original NOT GONNA HAPPEN BECAUSE…
            What your talking about is akin to a tax.. a music tax..
            matter of fact.. thats what you should call it..
            as far as I understand your idea.. no matter how you re-word it..
            you are asking for a MUSIC TAX!

          • Tune Hunter

            NO SIR!
            Shazam by my estimate will do at least two 4 billion IDs in 2013. If you start charging only one in 10 would monetize.
            Verry bad! Right? Well at 39 cents Shazam would make 160 million dollars! Last yer they have lost 5 million on revenue of 31 million. What would you do as an investor of Shazam?
            I would kick them in to the real life!
            Again, fun will start, once we bribe them all and sources of info for freloaders will vanish. Then Shazam, with little bit of industry wide promotion, will crank 5 billion paid IDs by the end of second year.

          • hippydog

            OK.. I didnt know this..

            So how did the suit turn out?

          • TuneHunter

            Shazam, with servers outside of USA, can continue free service

            A “rocket docket” allowing CIA and FBI and others to communicate.

          • Visitor

            Interesting. The guy owns several completely unrelated companies apperently. Yet also finds the time to most strange rants on DMN about knowing the secrets of making the music industry hundreds of billions of dollars. The man is a machine.

          • hippydog

            QUOTE “Shazam by my estimate will do at least two 4 billion IDs in 2013. If you start charging only one in 10 would monetize.
            Verry bad! Right? Well at 39 cents Shazam would make 160 million dollars! Then Shazam, with little bit of industry wide promotion, will crank 5 billion paid IDs by the end of second year. ”
            OK, Where are you getting these numbers from?
            I have no problem with the 4 billion IDs part,
            1.) but how do you predict going from a free service to a paid service will result in only a 1 in 10 usage? How do you know it wouldnt turn out to be a 1 in 100?
            do you have any supporting facts or references to support your prediction?
            2.) you said yourself that a “not free shazam” would lose 90% of its users.. Yet you state with “industry wide promotion” it would grow to 5 billion.
            what are you basing these figures on? a 400 mil to 5 bil growth? really?

          • TuneHunter

            I am observing music industry for 15 years, love numbers and as an inventor I see staff that is invisible to others.
            Yes, on the day one the traffic would be decimated.
            Sincere and speedee effort on labels side to convert all ID guys to cash registers would determine if clicking rate in month #24 for Shazam is at 2 or 5 billion on annual basis. I think, the smell of cash to many players would make it closer to 5 billion.
            Today a lot of theft goes like this: screenshot of pandora, or iPhone photo of radio display then Google lyricsID to free MP3 on YouTube.
            Once Radio displays are part of the Discovery Moment Monetization this route will go to paid accustic ID service like Shazam.

          • Visitor

            A communist country with its priorities out of wack even. Lets spent all our money making musicians rich, they will surely defend us when country who spends more money on their military invades..

  4. Myles

    New digital music distibution business models = giant iceberg
    Old music business models = Titanic
    David Lowey = some guy running around deck of Titanic shortly after striking giant iceberg and screaming “This sucks!”

    • tired metaphors

      did you dust off that metaphor from 2003?
      innovate some new ones.
      here’s Lowery’s
      “The New Boss (Tech) is worse than the Old Boss (Record Labels)”
      It’s getting used a lot.

      • Myles

        That metaphor is new and innovative?
        How depressing for artists searching for a way to make a living these days.

  5. Champion

    The real question is can someone who is not really a musician be the voice of musicians?
    If I painted a few mediocre paintings over twenty years ago, can I still call myself a painter?

  6. Spoken X Digital Media Group

    Digital rights are the only rights that matter for most non performing, non touring , non Hollywood acting and mostly dead artists.
    New technology will always evolve and the only rising celebrity with any real substance inside this digital media space is a good old fashioned attorney that specialize in new media content, copyright enforcement, fair market contract value, litigation inside the realms of the supreme courts of the United States and exotic financial instruments securitization on the international stock markets.

  7. AnAmusedGeek

    As an outsider looking in, the ‘core’ problem seems to be the de-vaulation of music … piracy, low streaming rates, etc. all seem to be a symptom of that shift.
    This is mainly a matter of ‘perception’ – I don’t think it can be solved via technology or legistlative methods. Until consumers recognize the value of music, and are willing to pay a fare price for it, the problem will persist. You can’t ‘force’ consumers to pay a given rate, as there are too many _legal_ methods for obtaining music legally – for instance CC licensed music, listening to radio, etc. Until the consumer realizes they have to support the ecosystem with fair sustainable payments, everything else is just a stop gap.
    I honestly think ‘consumer education’ is the only thing that will help here. PSA’s like the one Paul wrote about earlier are a start, but I would imagine its going to take a much larger, more concerted effort to effect real change.

    • ja

      This assumes people act solely according to their morals. Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem is enforcement, it doesn’t exist because big tech wants it that way because they’ve made all the money from piracy. Look at traffic laws for example – are there people who still blow lights and drive too fast? Absolutely. Are they in the minority? Absolutely. At the least, all you’d need to do is blanket enough people with even a small penalty for illegal downloading, say $500, and it would make an ENORMOUS change.
      This is where the old music industry gets it so, so wrong. They are enraged at losing billions to big tech, so, weirdly, they go after the consumer with astronomical penalties that have no effect except for making anyone who stands up for their music rights the bad guy.
      More penalities, smaller amounts. Problem solved. How is no one talking about this? Attn David Lowery!

      • Visitor

        $500 is still way too high. I would say the fine should be something on the order of a traffic ticket, so $50-150. Of course this is only for non-commericial/small-scale infringement.

    • Visitor

      But do they really? Is new music not being created? Is the amount of new music being created massive?

      The scary truth you will never hear a professional musician say is that there is no reason for there to be a “music industry” in the first place. There is no need to create a profit incentive for making music. Creating music doesn’t not need to be a profession at all.

      • Versus

        By that logic, who needs any industry at all? Why pay anyone for anything? Either people will do their work or they won’t. Who needs an income?

        – Versus

      • exactly

        exactly. creating music need not be a profession. let everybody do it as a hobby for a few hours a week.

        cuz we love to watch amateur football players at the Superbowl, hobbyist opera singers at the Met, sunday-painters at the museum of modern art.

        i even love it when my hobbyist dentist drills & fills my teeth when i get a cavity… because he’s so passionate about it!

  8. Truther

    Pandora is no different than the big labels. 5 Execs got rich. Nobody else. One of them is posting photos of his wealth publicly on social media, almost daily, making sure that everyone knows he got rich, which is tasteless & embarrassing for Pandora.
    The new boss is no different than the old boss, but has even less couth or class, which is contributing to their PR problem.
    Enough humblebragging already, the shareholders who now run your business may like it, but it’s making your PR problems worse, P – Congress is run by the people. You can only pay lobbyists so much before the people who employ congress start to look at your executives and realize they are no different than those at Bank Of America, stealing from the underemployed to build a swimming pool in Sonoma.

  9. mdti

    Most importantly, his couch represents bad taste in the internet age ! 😀