Thursday, 7 May 2009

Publishing, File Sharing & Revolution

A shift is occurring which we have all been made aware of by the frequent cries of injustice from several members of the music industry. With the rise of Internet file sharing existing publishing establishment revenues are being undermined, though this has now largely come to be accepted, with those companies concluding that they will subsist on the profit generated by their back catalog of work still under copyright. Digital distribution removes the third party publisher from the loop, allowing more profit to go to the artist, perhaps a result that the majority of those in music publishing are secretly happy about.

This same transition is beginning to occur in the sphere of book publishing. With the arrival of Amazon's Kindle e-Reader, Sony's e-Reader, again the artist will be given the opportunity to enjoy increased revenue and liberated from the leeching publishers. Whilst we will always have film production companies, completely digital distribution of video rental is in the offing in the UK and already available in the US, with television soon to follow.

Many artists complain of the threat to their income created by the ease of digital copying and the rise of peer to peer file sharing, I personally welcome the prospect of having a home free of the various boxes, cases and shelves required to store transient human art forms. There are many advantages to the publishing revolution, with the UK in particular being so resistant to change, the opportunity to turn over the existing publishing aristocracy is very welcome.

The ease of digital duplication is often sighted as a setback, but to who? After all what is wrong with a dynamic that brings wealth to those artists whose art inspires pathos or edifies in such ways as to make us want to give our money?

Whilst many are currently bemoaning the pseudo-politicisation of the celebosphere, the removal of the publisher from transient art forms brings to the fore the question: is this art worth paying for? In time, perhaps redefining who our celebrities are.

Would future generations of children be raised expecting never to have to pay for books, music and films? Surely teaching your children to pay for what they like is a constructive tenet? After all we ourselves expect to be paid for work in the career we choose, so this initial instruction in the determination of excellence can only be mutually beneficial.

If all else fails the Internet provides the artist with a way to maintain a relationship with their audience, providing incentives to purchasing. Ultimately then the artist will be brought back into direct communication with the audience, as it was before recorded music or the printed press.