We can download (steal) music, movies, TV shows and anything else we can find on the internet. We are modern pirates in a virtual sea and the ones asking for money for their efforts are, as Serona Elton points out in Love for Labels, “…portrayed, unfairly, as evil, backward-looking, grandmother-suing anti-artist ogres.” Artists have a right to get paid; the manager needs a cut, the plethora of middle-men, yes-men and greedy grabbers need their cut; the distributors, marketers, executives and so on need their cut too… Art costs money! But it is this idea that has the Art/art/anti-art communities divided, law suits in tow and mainstream media scrambling to find a solution.
As an example David Malitz points to the band Radiohead who, in 2007 released their 7th album directly to a website asking only for user-defined contributions. He points to the fact that many recording artists (signed recording artists) usually get no more than $1 per album sold and therefore, Radiohead may be in for a fully lucrative adventure in experimentation (which, by the way, is Radiohead’s style already). It is something, I think, that really only an artist who is already well known can get away with, though. What sense would it make if an unknown artist were to release a new album asking only for a donation? They may have a small fan base and make a few bucks but, if they are looking for an income or record label to sign a contract with, releasing a free album doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.
This idea of free media is also a part of Pavlik’s viewpoint in chapter 4 of his Media in the Digital Age. He discusses nontraditional video creators such as YouTube uploaders and newscasters, journalists and politicians looking to bring their media in line with how users are access in our virtual sea. “If there is one problem facing consumers of online video, it is the task of sorting through all the video trash for the occasional video nugget of interest or quality.” (Pavlik, 83) These “nuggets” not only apply to online video but ALL media, in the form of a newly found, well produced website, news source, zine, blog and so on…
It is our job to find the nuggets! We are the gatekeepers at the ports of our own virtual seas. Weed through the topics to find what interests us. Find what is important for us to know or see to make us better, more active members of the world around us. And doing so will, hopefully, make us information literate 😉