Ubiquity drives the commoditization of music and other intellectual property, lowering value and decreasing discovery.
Giving credit, or attribution, counteracts this effect and creates value.
I read two posts this week which got me thinking about how these two ideas related in the worlds of both social media and independent music. One post was from Tommy Darker on Music Think Tank called âPremiumization 101 For Musiciansâ (from whence came the quote below) and the other was by Bob Dunn, my favorite WordPress guru, called âMake Sure Your Shared Tweets Display Your Twitter Handleâ. These seem like disparate posts, but bear with me for a minute or two.
"We know that there's no economical value in non-scarce things. Then how do musicians expect to make money out of digital music, especially now that's it's becoming more and more commodified and easy to have access to? Something abundant eventually becomes free at some pointâ¦You create market value by selling scarce things. Get it right asap." â Tommy Darker
"[Big Tech] have to keep commodifying things to keep the share price up, but in doing so they have made all content, including music and newspapers, worthless, in order to make their billions.â â Thom Yorke [Radiohead] as quoted by Music Tech Policy
Giving Credit Raises The Artist Above The Noise
Both in the online world of social media and the world of independent music, itâs difficult to rise above the noise. Digital technology has made it both easier to create content and easier to share it. We can remix songs, record performances or create videos on our laptops and phones and upload them instantly to Soundcloud or YouTube. Links are shared and retweeted almost instantaneously. This Mashable article on how much data is created every minute on the internet was itself retweeted over 3,000 times by the time of this writing.
Thatâs why giving credit to othersâ ideas is important. Itâs important because music, writing, applications (code) and other intellectual property are proliferating so quickly that they are, in effect, being driven into commodity status. âMusic like waterâ is not just a quaint idea, itâs really true that music is all around us today, seemingly free of charge.
The âmusic as a paid utilityâ model proposed by Leonhard and Kusek in 2005 has not happened, however. Artist compensation and copyright models for all types of digitized intellectual property remain confused, with compensation bunched up in strange places (like with platform providers such as Google, Apple, Amazon, or middle-men like music labels). Whole segments of the creative supply chain are being driven out from book publishers to music producers and recording studios.
The Music Tech Policy article explains why tech platform providers like Google, in particular, are driven to commoditize digital content, but thatâs not the main point here. My point is how, as content creators, do we counteract this effect?
As a writer and an artist, I believe strongly in the concept of crediting the work of others. Thatâs why I propose the idea that attribution is a critical form of compensation for artists and creators of intellectual property.
Attribution, or receiving credit for oneâs work or ideas, increases an author or artistâs visibility, and allows them, over time, to rise above the noise.
As consumers crowd source (or share) the best content, it rises to othersâ attention, perhaps even âgoing viralâ, and thereby allowing at some point for monetization (either past or future). However, this only works if the original idea, the original work, is properly attributed.
Giving Yourself Credit Is the First Step
So where does Bob Dunnâs post about Twitter share buttons come in? I find it amazing that many writers fail to properly set the options on their social media share buttons on their blogs. Yes, they have social share buttons, but when you click on them to share their article on Twitter, they donât append the âvia @[Twitter handle]â at all, or it says âvia @sharethisâ after the article title and link. Sometimes, thereâs just a link, and not even the article title.
Every artist who remixes the work of another, whether music or video, and every content curator who forwards the work of another author, should strive to make attribution a part of their routine. And every artist who creates work should make it easy for others to properly give them credit for it. That means putting your website URL on all your social media sites, and vice versa. Make it easy for viewers of your YouTube video to link to your other sites.
Itâs important to credit your collaborators (âwork-for-hireâ musicians, producers), those who have contributed significantly to the creation of a work that bears your name. Giving credit to others who are good at what they do does not detract from oneâs own work, it only enhances it.
If all of us who create, curate and consume artistic content make this effort, over time, the best work will become noticed, and the creators will have the opportunity to be not only recognized, but also compensated, for their work. Perhaps I live in a utopian dream world, but if âmusic like waterâ was a valid proposal, why not âgive credit as currencyâ?
What do you think? Do you ensure itâs easy for others to credit your work? Do you license your work under the Creative Commons License? Do you credit others for their work when you curate or remix it?