Don Henley: “In Google’s World, We Are Not Creators, We Are Not Artists…”

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It started as an interview about the brand-new Forum and the Eagles’ mega-reunion tour.  From the Los Angeles Times

LA Times: As far as the record business goes, have you read Jaron Lanier’s book “Who Owns the Future” and, if so, what do you think of his proposals for bringing fairness/equity to the digital age? Who do you see out there who’s working with the digital distribution of music in ways that reward rather than exploit musicians and their music?

Henley: I haven’t read it but I read his previous one and I really like how his thinking has evolved, particularly as it pertains to the techno-utopians and the damage they’ve done to our culture, including the arts — specifically music and film and the people who work in those fields.

In the technocratic world of Google (which owns YouTube), my musical brethren and I are no longer artists; we’re not creators — we are merely “content providers.” Copyright and intellectual property mean nothing to the technocracy. They’ve built multi-billion-dollar, global empires on the backs of creative, working people who are uncompensated. They’re wrecking entire industries.

The genie is so far out of the bottle that there’s really no putting it back in. There might be a legislative fix, but there seems to be no political will. Google alone has about a dozen lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Google spent over $11 million last year on lobbying and over $18 million the previous year.

They spread the money and the propaganda around like manna, employing their favorite buzz words like “innovation.” Regulation, they say, will “stifle innovation,” and the legislators all nod in agreement.

It’s an oligarchy, plain and simple. The arts and entertainment industry can’t compete with that.

Image originally from WacsiM, adapted under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License (CC BY-SA 2.0).  Written while listening to Andy Rivera.

20 Responses

  1. Jonathan

    There is nothing innovative about YouTube. For example, Vimeo is a much better platform, technically speaking.

    YouTube is maintained just to push ads. Nothing more, nothing less.

  2. GARY

    The recorded song is certainly not the controllable commodity it once was. In that respect music artists are indeed just content providers in the Google world. People, however, will still pay to see a good, creative, or highly entertaining music performances. The community event, watching alongside hundreds or thousands of others who appreciate the artist, is an experience that can never be packaged and downloaded for 1.29 on iTunes or ripped from YouTube. The downside is the artist and material has to be really good and/or creative and supported by other professionals in order for the artist to make a living. Henley and the Eagles, I assume, can pull it off. “Joe Schmuck Wannabe” will continue to earn .99/song from 100 of his closest friends and relatives.

  3. Minneapolis Musician

    We are entering an entirely new time for humanity, with the Internet and wireless everywhere communication of sound and video.

    The winners are those that control the infrastructure.

    I just wonder where this is all headed.

  4. Chris H

    Wish we had a better messenger, but I love the message.

    In an NSA world, it insults my (and should yours) intelligence that NOTHING can be done to help the prerecorded music business.

  5. Anonymous

    Sorry guys, but this is a waste of time.

    You can’t blame Google for lobbying against its natural enemies. Google has every right to destroy the music and literature industries as long as it uses legitimate means to do so.

    There’s only one way left to defend music and musicians against Google — and there’s only one place to do it:

    In court!

    It can easily be proved that Google
    1) has violated the DMCA by knowingly reducing the number of legitimate takedown notices that right holders could submit,
    2) is the world’s leading piracy search engine,
    3) encourages users to visit illegal and dangerous web sites via its auto-complete feature,
    4) is the world’s leading portal to organized crime.

    So let’s tell our organizations to do what a lot of countries and companies do these days:

    Sue Google.

  6. it is a mafia setup, not a company

    An investigation into Google’s online advertising practices by Canadian regulators has found that the Chocolate Factory served ads based on users’ sensitive health-related information, in violation of the country’s privacy laws.

    “Most Canadians consider health information to be extremely sensitive,” Chantal Bernier, Canada’s Interim Privacy Commissioner, said in a statement. “It is inappropriate for this type of information to be used in online behavioural advertising.”

    Canada’s probe – conducted with assistance from the US Federal Trade Commission – was launched in January of last year after a man complained to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner that he was being “followed” by ads for health devices.

    The man claimed that after using Google Search to look up information about devices for treating sleep apnea, he began seeing ads for sleep apnea devices on sites with completely unrelated topics – such as comic strip websites – a pattern he said continued for up to a month.

    The Office’s own tests confirmed the man’s claims and that the targeted ads persisted regardless of whether the browser or even the computer was restarted.

    Under Canadian privacy law, advertisers cannot collect sensitive information, such as personal health information, without users’ explicit consent. In this case, the sleep apnea ads relied on implied consent, which in Canada is a no-no.

    In negotiations with the Privacy Office, Google said that the display criteria and users lists for ads in its network are determined by individual advertisers, but admitted that although marketing based on sensitive information is against its policies, “certain advertisers or third party buyers can use remarketing products in error.”

    Google will not have to pay any fines because of the flap, but it has agreed to make changes to ensure that future ads are served in compliance with Canadian law.

    The ad-slinging titan says it will provide more information about its policies and privacy laws to advertisers, in addition to offering more training to its staff about how to address potential policy violations. It will also improve its automated ad review system and increase monitoring of ad campaigns to make sure they are in compliance.

    Google says that all of these changes will be fully implemented by June 2014.

    The Reg contacted Google to ask whether its agreement with Canada will affect how it serves ads in the US, the UK, or other regions, but so far we’ve yet to hear anything.

    As for Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s investigations into online advertising practices, however, it seems its talks with Google may only be the beginning.

    “We also have concerns about whether other advertising networks are complying with Canadian privacy law,” Interim Commissioner Bernier said. “We will be contacting various advertising stakeholders in the near future to share these investigation results and remind them of their privacy obligations.”

    • stephen Aristei

      “Thank you for posting that link on the attorney’s general meeting……..fascinating…..Google truly is the “dark side” and a glowing example about “unlimited and absolute power” and it’s ability to corrupt “absolutely” !

    • Anonymous

      Easy now, we get it — you don’t like artists. But think about it: What would you rather have?

      1) A world with music, movies and literature or
      2) A world with Google?

      You can’t have both.

      • Anonymous

        Let me just blow your mind for a moment. Today. Right now. We have both. MIND BLOWN.

    • The Google Monster


  7. TuneHunter

    We have to put Mel Watt and ALL, I mean ALL mega stars with connections to lobby in new “fair use doctrine”.
    More musicians will team up and sooner we do it higher chances of putting Genie back to the bottle we have.

    This single change will allow to switch to discovery moment monetization and will bring 100B dollar music industry, unfortunately, with Goole as a number one beneficiary.

    If we standby little longer Google will get what they wish without spending a penny!
    NSA news didn’t stop East German style Google-Feds shenanigans. They are the best friends.

  8. zogg

    Can’t really say what Henley is talking about here I’ve never walked in his shoes but he has a right to his thoughts is there anyone who’s an original?

  9. Johnny Gagnon

    Corporate industry are the reason kaos , pollution and mental cess pools are permanent expanding landmarks engulfing our planet

  10. music fan

    Yes, Multi million dollar super groups are losing money because of google. BUT, I have discovered dozens of new bands and musicians that probably would never have reached my ears (or music collection) without google and other social media outlets. And yes I buy their CD’s, go to their shows etc… I thing google etc have just leveled they playing field. Now, lots of people get to build up dedicated listeners instead of the few that crack the top 40. I think what really hurt the music industry was the monopolization of Radio. I stopped listening to radio because most stations are owned by the same companies and they allplay the same crap

  11. Johnny Gagnon

    I agree with everything he says, 100% on the mark …… the entire industry spectrum of art selection and artist appreciation including financial recognition has melted down ,capitulated and compounded itself into a heap of plasticized distortion for the sole benefit of international corporate technology media conglomerates …….. no thanks to those big four music corporations supposedly previously controlling our industry who had decided to sell out all artists and music ,without any care for the future, by unloading and providing their massive catalogs for low and starving scale returns in copyrights remuneration ….. now it is at rest like a giant heaping pile of free candy within a technology oriented distortion-produce , and set in a waste dump of 100% dead end pipe dreams