A Rational Response to Lily Allen’s Political Attempt to “FSCK You” All.


The problem with the Internet is that it’s full of lies and misdirection.

Some of those lies emanate from Media barons,
some from Politicians. Hell, some even come from Bloggers. But when the misdirection is uttered by a music artist who is worshipped by the young and naive, then I
feel that I have to respond.

On September the 16th, Lily Allen published an article on her blog that she had purported to
write herself. Since then Lily’s Blog has been removed. We saved it.

The problem is, it was one of the most
ridiculous and misleading manifestos on file sharing that I have ever seen.

Whether they were her words or an industry
shills (which I like to believe they were) is irrelevant to the damage her
words have caused on a global scale, politically.

The apparent naive utterings of young
starving artist apparently scared of being sent broke by the internet file

Her stance on file sharing was of course
ridiculed by critics globally, but I doubt  whether any of her claims were
actually analyzed and properly individually dissected … or that the correct data
was ever fed back to Lily.

After all without us old guys on the Net…. How
do young ’uns know what’s right or what’s wrong?

So without more ado, my response to Lilly’s

(Lily’s comments are in Blue and mine are in Black.

September 16, 2009 – Wednesday 

More Piracy Stuff, moi, Matt
Bellamy and Bjorn Ulvaeus
Current mood:   focused

I've had a lot of responses back
since my previous blog posting here.

You would Lily, P2P is a favourite amongst
the majority of informed Internet users.

The long and short of it is, even
before this economic downturn Piracy

Fist of all – lets talk about the word PIRACY.

What you’re referring to is not Piracy.
Piracy is something that happens when starving Somalians’  want to hijack
your boat for ransom.

File sharing is file sharing. It is not
Piracy. Piracy is the removal of physical possessions.

File sharing is more like taking a picture of
a physical object and showing the photo to your friends.

Think of file sharing as public relations and
suddenly you’ll see that it (P2P file sharing) is actually a good thing. But
hell, I don’t want to preach to you… after all, you are probably only repeating
what your minders told you to say.

has been affecting all areas of
entertainment, except maybe theatre.

That’s what the movie studios used to say
until the Price Waterhouse report was released last year showing that their
attendance records and revenues are growing annually at a compound
growth rate
. Probably the
largest of any legal business in the world.

CD sales, Film DVD sales, book
sales , TV DVD sales, everything.

Woah, girlie. Each of those has a different
reason for declining sales. Let’s break it up.

CD Sales – Old technology – nearly no-one has CD-drives
in their computers, netbooks, laptops or phones. End of Technology – sort of
like the 8-Track.

Film DVD Sales are actually increasing. I’m not sure where
you get your statistics from, but I’m sure they don’t include the Walmart, ALDI
or Woolworths numbers on the bundled catalogue titles.

Whenever I look through the DVD sale bins, in
those establishments, I am never alone in my
fossicking, there are usually at least a few people to
see what “gems”
Hollywood have demoted to deep catalogue this week. What is decreasing is the
profit from each DVD, Whereas it used to be $50.00 profit per DVD it is now a
more realistic 25% or about a buck.

Book Sales – well I’m afraid on this point you are
undoubtedly correct. Young people don’t really read five books a week anymore
because Television grew up in the eighties and started being 24 hours instead
of the
5:00 pm to 10 pm event that it was in the ‘60’s.

Additionally, there are a lot more rock stars
these days and a sh**load more concerts to attend than in the sixties or
seventies. When I was a lad I went to every concert I could in Wellington (NZ)
and that equaled a maximum of about ten per year. These days, there are five
concerts a week. So yes, on book sales, I’m afraid that the younger people have
grown up with more choices than just – um where’s my library card?

So obviously book sales would be damaged when
there are so many competing entertainment options.

But I do have a question for you Lilly… Please
give me a single meaningful statistical example of P2P downloads of books. I
ask because I have been measuring P2P metrics for sometime and I promise you
that whilst there are a few books on the P2P networks, most of them relate to
university study material and not the latest best sellers. When compared to
Music downloads, novels don’t even rate. Just as Music doesn’t rate when
compared to video content.

Music Videos? Well, they’re in a separate P2P
category all of their own.

TV DVD Sales That’s almost laughable.  I spoke to a
DVD retailer a while ago in Adelaide who said his main DVD sales were for
people in Italy, Greece and France because he had copies of the local foreign
TV series DVD’s that were not available in their own country and people were
phoning him from those countries pleased that they could obtain legal copies.

Lily, the problem with TV series downloads is
not that they’re downloaded via P2P, it’s that the distributors are too dumb to
get their act together and do a digital day/date release the day after the
cable stations have purchased the content.

So, users RIP the cable content and share it
with their less fortunate global peers. You know the ones – people from
countries like Argentina, Ethiopia, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia,
Kazakhstan; the countries who don’t have the benefit of  economically
affordable Cable TV choice.

You see Lily, in the real world, outside of
your advisor’s head, there are actually companies that don’t care what the
population watches as long as the company can screw the population for the
maximum with the minimum cost to themselves. And in
Australia for example, the minimum cost to our one and
only monopoly cable content purchaser, means that they (Foxtel) repeat
everything 50 times a year.

If you had to watch repeats of everything 50
times a year, would you be satisfied Lily? I think not.

So the question should not be “Why do people
download TV content for free?” But… “Why do the cable companies and content
distributors force people to download content for free by not giving them any
other viable options?”

One answer is laziness and habit – Content
owners have sweetheart content deals that originated in the 70’s and 80’s when
the cable companies had a monopoly on distribution. (This was before the days
of DVD’s, Lily).

Those deals allowed the content owners to
have long lunches and let their lawyers do the selling for them, who
unfortunately also like to do long lunches so they limit the number of deals
that they are willing to do…. so they can sell the TV series 300 times instead
of 5 billion times. Yep – I think that 5 billion digital customers at $1.00
each is a far better customer base than 300 cable TV distributors at $25,000
per episode each. – Get your minder to do the math, Lily. I don’t have the

So it isn’t really that file sharers are
ripping off the content companies. It’s more that the content companies are
ripping off you, the artist, by limiting your exposure to potential new
audiences by not making the content available ubiquitously. In other words,
you’re either a member of the old school gang or you’re not. And if you’re not
– it’s nearly impossible to join the gang.

Earlier today I blogged about the  panel of Media experts
(which included News Limited people) when USC Annenberg put together a panel
“leading media
Chernin and Gordon Crawford about the long view of the future of Media

In that video, “the expert” revealed that
they would have “Digital Distribution” organized in about 8 years time.

Lily, you’re 24 years old. If you get busy on
being a mom now, your first child will be seven years old before you can
legally download a Digital copy of Fantasia or the Wizard of Oz for her/him.

You will be 32 years old.

Do you want to wait until you are 32 before
being able to download the Wizard of Oz or the videos of your own music
concerts so that you can show your children, legally?

I didn’t think so. And Lily, no-one else
wants to wait on the dinosaur slug called the content industry either.

They (the industry) may have assisted you in
“making it” but believe me, it was not for your benefit.  Like when you
finally are able to download your own concert videos, I wonder how much you
will have to pay to watch yourself.

Now, if people go on consuming at
the rate they are and do not pay for what they are consuming, not only will the
artists within all these industries be without jobs and unable to express
themselves but the behind the scenes people too. Thats literally millions of

Methinks someone is feeding you a line, yet

In Australia in 2005 there were the equivalent of 80
million 90 minute movies downloaded online via P2P. The population at that time
was 21 million. So let’s round those numbers a little and say that meant four
movies per person for the entire year.

I hardly think that qualifies for “millions”
being put of work.

Actually Lily, I don’t even think that
qualifies for one person put out of work. Please let me know if I’m wrong.

. . I know that a lot of you want
to know that you're not being overcharged for a product and you want to know
that your hard earned cash is going to the right places, a lot of work has to
be done in order for this to happen. I think that paying 14.99 for an album is
ridiculous, I'm with you on that, and that wont happen again, but piracy is not
the answer.

Lets not call it piracy again, but let’s do talk about file sharing. I
happen to think that file-sharing is the perfect answer, economically speaking.
File sharing is forcing an industry that has been gouging artists and fans
alike for decades – to revisit their pricing models and rationalise their
policies to allow more people to obtain the content instantaneously (that means
digitally), globally instead of day-parting the release to a ten year old
formula that has been broken by the ubiquity of the Internet – and automaticall encourages file sharing.

What do you do if you need a loaf of bread and your local deli is out of bread? You go to the supermarket.

File-sharing was also the reason why so many
of your fans can now listen to you on their iPods and phones. Without File
sharing, Steven Jobs would never have (seconded) developed the iPod and subsequently would never have been able to start iTunes.

It's hard enough to get a job at
the moment. People are being laid off in all areas and the record companies are
no exception. My own label EMI laid off thousands last year. I don't care so
much about the high-ups (and by the way they're always the last to go – what a surprise)
but the people who are going out are the young ones, the life blood basically.
They're the ones that go first,

Lily, this has nothing to do with file
sharing. It has to do with the death of an outdated distribution model and the
record companies failure to pull their heads out of the sand and see the
developing trend.

I've seen it. And the same is
happening in TV and film. Why do you think you are just getting Terminator 6
and Harry Potter 7 instead of exciting new voices?

Actually, I think we get Terminator and Harry
Potter because they are a proven successful series. Lucky for you Lily, fans
buy what they like. Your logic would tend to suggest that fans should only buy
one of your albums and then buy other unknowns to expand the available artistic

Um, I think you should think that one through
before repeating it again. Whether you stay or go, your future revenues depend
on the credibility and persona that you have built up as an artist. Every other
artist that is “discovered” actually takes money from your future children’s

File sharer’s just increase recognition of
you as an artist and increase the community desire to buy your T-shirts, attend
your concerts or have you as the background music at their wedding.

Because the young voices are not
there anymore. Do you care about that, or do you just want to watch and listen
to the products of the last generation?

It’s interesting you should say that Lily.
Did you know that before copyright was ever invented, people played music,
wrote music and copied memes and themes from each other with no-one going broke?

In fact there are only two types of people in
the world that copyright benefits. One of those is the lawyers and the other
one is the people that can afford to hire the best lawyers.

So the contrary argument to “copyright
assists in the creation of new talent “ is copyright destroys more new talent
that it protects. (If you need an example Lily, search “Lambada”).

Or do you want a voice that is
heard and can make a difference?

And that would be who Lily? I know we elect
our Presidents mainly from amongst film stars, but I don’t think any musos have
made it to
10 Downing Street yet. You see music is mostly irrelevant
except as a small portion of our entertainment elective. Mainly listening to it
whilst at the fish and chips shop, on the bus or tube with our iPods, or whilst
talking to our friends at the local pub. So music is a social facilitator, just
like alcohol or marijuana.

What I do know is  we have to
invest in this sector of our country guys,

The people do invest Lily. Through the
television licences that finance the BBC, one of the biggest creators of new
and fresh content in the

we are great film makers,we have
incredible writers and authors, historically the best music makers, we cant
throw it all away.

You’re not Lily. File sharing has done more
for spreading the music, spreading the meme, than any PR exercise has ever been
capable of achieving.

The internet is the most amazing thing,
but it should be OUR thing, and ironically piracy is just playing into the
hands of the corporations.  

Now this one is so ironic, that I could
almost do a whole 20 page blog article about it.

Unfortunately, the Corporation that backed
you, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, is the company that is being hurt the most
by the Internet; so this statement in the middle of everything you have had to
say on this subject puzzles me.

Although it could be a psychological ruse
into convincing your readers that you really are naïve. If so, it’s a clever

What these artists and creators
do, they do for the love of it,

They may do. But I always thought that people
that signed recording artist contracts did so because they wanted fame and

The people that do it for the love can be
found in little café’s and bistros or in barnyard sheds or garages jamming for
their friends.

Let’s face it Lily, no-one would put up with
the shit that goes along with becoming a star who really didn’t want to get filthy rich.

I know its hard because money is
scarce but we have to inject money back into these areas.

It (money) is (injected) every day via Youtube, Amazon, iTunes,
Netflix, Redbox. These companies in the last year have collected more from
digital sales than the entire music and film industries managed to collect in
any two years combined, previously. How can you say we aren’t injecting money?

It's not fair to steal peoples
material,I know it's art and it has no physical value but even Shakespeare had
shares in The Globe Theatre. People will lose their jobs, you'll be watching
X-factor, Simon Cowell will be getting richer, radio stations will be churning
out old back catalogues from people your dad or even your grandads age (vera
lynn is No 1 this week)

No Lily. That’s what copyright has managed to
achieve by claiming 50-95 year copyright periods. Public domain is what you are
referring to. Not reality.

Besides, I think Vera Lynn is cool – if you remix
her with an interesting backbeat and Charlton Heston as Peer Gynt – Great movie
– brilliant soundtrack (even if it was a pre talkie movie). However you are
right. Content has no physical value.

It has a time value; a relevancy value and a
personal memory value. These are what economists call “hedonic value”.

Therefore the real value of content is the
hedonic value applied by the consumer to the content.

i.e.: Person A may be a Lilly Allen fan and
go into orgiastic enthrallment every time they hear your music. That person
would be prepared no doubt to pay 50.00 per album of your songs.

 Person B on the other hand is a 75 year
old strict Methodist who would run from the “wet patch” or “f*ck you” lyrics.

This has nothing to do with file sharing. It
has to do with the personal hedonic value proposition.

 and the taxpayer will have to
subsidize yet more unemployment.

Sorry. There is another aspect to this. What
about the dole bludger that sits at home all day, so enthralled by your melodic
tunes that they can’t be bothered to go to work?

Bull*hit you say? Well we agree, but the idea
that file sharing is responsible for even one person being laid off is just as

Please, please, please go and see
a film in the cinema instead of buying it in Tesco's  car-park , buy a
c.d. or album off itunes if you really like it, and god help us, keep buying
books . If we do this, i really think we can make a difference.
    Anyone band, writer, author, musician, actress please feel
free to contact me on this matter if you feel it is important

Wonderful sentiments. So tell me Lilly. Will
the DVD or CD I buy tomorrow work in the machine of the future that no longer
has a DVD drive? Or what happens if the company that created the DRM has gone
out of business. Because I have about 100 mixed LP’s, and cassette tapes that
regardless of what I try, just wont squeeze into my DVD drive.

You see the problem with your request is that
the digital copy is portable. I can take that or send it to any device that I

Maybe instead of entreating the consumers,
you could turn your attention to the big media distributors and ask them…..

“Hey guys, this Koltai character raises some
interesting questions”.

“Why will it take eight years for me to
legally be able to download any movie that I want?”

And Lily – if you did decide to turn
quisling, and did receive a response, I can promise you that if you published
that response it
would get you into 10 Downing Street; but what you’re doing now, is unfortunately
doomed to failure.

P.S.: Next time you want to rant in public
about file sharing – send me the draft and I’ll be happy to point out where you
might have just a few facts wrong.  

By the way, I love your music Lily and if
you’re happy to hire me at my hourly rate as a PhD Economist…. – I’ll be happy
to buy your next album. Although I expect there’s not much use for Economists
in the music business. Especially radical ones that tell the truth.

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