Maslin on Anderson’s “Free”

Not sure why I have such a bug up my butt about the whole Anderson “Free” thing. Certainly, the well-documented accounts of near-plagiarism/sloppiness (is there a difference?) didn’t help, but it’s more than that.

I suppose it relates back to my general lack of time for those pontificating from the sidelines. I’d guess my patience for this moves with an inverse correlation to how far away I am from the sidelines. Right now I’m just so incredibly not even knee deep, but up to my eyeballs deep in the middle of trying to make various businesses work – businesses where there is real content, created by real artists, for which there is a real audience – that someone telling me to embrace “free” or some such variant just fatigues me to no end.

Let me be clear, if I thought this would work, not only would I do it, but I’d shout it from the rooftops.

Happily, some others who haven’t sipped the Kool Aid seem to be calling Mr. Anderson out. Here’s Janet Maslin:

“After beating the drum for giveaways throughout most of his book, Mr. Anderson eventually acknowledges that his idea is in fact not viable. Such are the perils of his sloppily constructed sweeping argument.”

See, you get to make sloppily constructed arguments and sell books. Guess what you don’t get to do: Make sloppily constructed business moves and stay in business. Heeding the advice of Anderson et al. would prove disastrous to people who rely on this “advice.”

Unfortunately, the people who buy books such as this one are precisely the ones least adept at discerning good advice from horse-shit. People – artists, for example – who, through no fault of their own, have no real business training.

This is why it pisses me off. It seems another example of taking advantage of the artist. It’s not really that different than the slick record label guy/producer/whatever who makes the artist feel as if they should trust him, and then takes their work/money.

Ok /rant.

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  1. sambarouge’s avatar

    Well, I actually know many artists who do have some strong business skills…and a few with business training…but, the “Free” thing is not really about business skills. Unfortunately, the “Free” thing is about Lemming vs. Leadership mentality. We do want to do the Tribes thing, the Radiohead thing…and the Free thing seems to be the coming thing
    The problem is one of not being able to risk real leadership per your own circumstances. Maybe free makes sense in some ways at some times. BUT, what ALWAYS makes sense at ANY time is the ability to say/think/direct things in the direction of accountability. So, that takes (no surprise here) the passion of purpose. It is very difficult for me to get behind the idea that the soul's work of artists should be free. BUT… that's me. If a musician's passion of purpose is to have music heard in a new market, they might be strongly moved to give away their music. It only makes sense if they are acting via “self leadership” vs. “self lemmingship.” There has always been and will always be “free” stuff.
    For me, the question is “WHY free for you?”


  2. jp’s avatar

    “It’s not really that different than the slick record label guy/producer/whatever who makes the artist feel as if they should trust him, and then takes their work/money.”

    Thank you for adding your voice to this. I have been saying this for quite a while as well. I have been straddling the fence between CC and Corporate, trying to make sure the new boss wasn't the old boss. But like most things in a consumer culture..

    I have been on “new boss” alert for the last few years as well..noticing the shift from the emphasis on “getting a record deal” “establishing your brand in the new economy”… given by people who have experience in neither .

    real work, like real art a hard to do..especially now. Thanks for printing and agreeing with Janet.


  3. Deck Tile’s avatar

    i agree on what you have said in your article..


  4. Band Merchandise’s avatar

    I totally agree with you if you are not falling that means you are no learning.



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