Wednesday, June 28, 2017

AMAIRIKUHN EDGYKAYSHUN STRIKES AGAIN: BROWN COWS MAKE CHOCOLATE MILK    ~ Hehe ...
a complete failure of our education system; top to bottom: failure
Image result for pic of head up your ass educationhttps://www.google.com/search?q=pic+of+head+up+your+ass&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiKkofZ4ODUAhUBWD4KHYsRDvcQ_AUICigB&biw=1920&bih=971#tbm=isch&q=pic+of+head+up+your+ass+education+&imgrc=nRWMh2I9YOoSRM:

...Admit it, you knew another of my rants about Amairikuhn edgykayshun was coming soon. Indeed, it's well overdue.
Thankfully, Mr. S.C. in the U.K. (for the Amairikuhn reading audience, those that can still barely read[remember, sound out the letters slowly...oh, wait, I forgot, that's phonics, and forbidden],  "U.K." stands for the United Kingdom, a.k.a. Great Britain, which is a completely different country, which this country fought a revolution under George Washington [that's the guy on the one dollar bill] back when we were sort of "one country")...oh, never mind... it's hopeless.
You'll see just how hopeless it is, when you read the article Mr. S.C. shared with me. Granted, it's a U.K. tabloid (The Independent) and British tabloids are almost as fun as the latest episode of Sherlock (for the Amairikuhn audience, "Sherlock" is a television series on the BBC, which is the British Broadcasting Corporation, a really big television network owned by Queen Elizabeth  -- no not the one who had problems with that Spanish fleet thing - based upon a character by Arthur Conan...) oh never mind, it's hopeless.
For those who haven't graduated with a BS in gender studies from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, or other Big Name American quackademy, here's the article:
Get this:
And yet, it turns out many people do not understand how chocolate milk is made: some genuinely believe chocolate milk is milk from brown cows.
Whether those brown cows are also thought to produce cocoa and sugar is not clear.
In a study by the Innovation Center of US Dairy, it was found that seven per cent of Americans believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows.
These weren’t children either - the research was conducted on 1,000 people over the age of 18.
A whopping 48 per cent of people said they didn’t know where chocolate milk came from. (Emphasis added)
Let that sink in: one thousand American adults were in the sample, and, good news, "That’s about 16.4 million people, which is more than the population of Ohio." And seven percent of that think brown cows are the source of chocolate milk. Assuming a certain percentage of that were simply "joke responses" that still leaves a rather large portion of the population that is just plain stupid. Extending the "chocolate-milk-from-brown-cows" principle indicates just how colossally stupid a significant segment of the American population really is, for it would have cottage cheese being made in cottages, buttermilk coming from ...what? cows of a sour disposition? And, as the article points out, strawberry milk from, well, strawberry-eating cows?
ut wait, the stupidity is not over:
This isn’t the first study to reach a worrying conclusion though - previous research has found that nearly one in five Americans do not know that hamburgers are made from beef.
Wait... you mean, the hamburger I had for lunch yesterday was not from Hamburg? (Oh the shock! the horror!) False advertising! There should be a law, or at least, a warning label on hamburgers that they are not from Hamburg!
Think I'm exaggerating? Think the American public is not that stupid? Think it is not capable of insipid explanations and responses like that? Well, check this statement out:
“At the end of the day, it’s an exposure issue,” said Cecily Upton, co-founder of the nonprofit FoodCorps, which brings agricultural and nutrition education into elementary schools.
“Right now, we’re conditioned to think that if you need food, you go to the store. Nothing in our educational framework teaches kids where food comes from before that point.”
And apparently some people don’t feel any huge need to find out either.
“We still get kids who are surprised that a French fry comes from a potato, or that a pickle is a cucumber,” Upton said.
It's an "exposure issue." No, it's not an "exposure issue." Let's quit using the flannel-mouthed euphemisms of the snowflake to qualify things, and call it like it is: it's an "education issue," and more accurately, a complete failure of our education system; top to bottom: failure. Teaching credentials have produced failure; doctors of edubabble have produced failure; their pseudo-discipline has produced failure. Why? Because by and large, the system has been deliberately designed by stupid people (the aforesaid doctors of education) for stupid people to reward stupid people. Failure, from kindergarten to the Harvard BS in gender studies: failure.
The result? Chocolate milk comes from brown cows, cottage cheese from cottages, and hamburgers are sandwiches from Hamburg(or Germans!?!?  There's a possibility!  Hamburgers are really sandwiches made of Germans from Hamburg!)
And just wait, sooner or later, we'll hear that the playing field needs to be leveled to account for the lack of "opportunity" to be "exposed" to commonplaces, and that questions like this  will thus eventually appear on the individually-adjusted computerized standardized tests of the Common Core program.
That sounds like a stupid idea, doesn't it? That sounds completely impossible, doesn't it?  But no, the "exposure issue" has already produced the chocolate-milk-from-brown-cows formula.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

INHUMAN MARKETS: EVEN THE ALGORITHM CREATORS DON’T KNOW WHAT ...Related imagehttps://www.google.com/search?q=pic+of+evil+a.i.&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjNu6TSht7UAhUFMj4KHXAcBsgQ_AUICigB&biw=1920&bih=971#imgdii=P-pUwHfnczdu-M:&imgrc=8OzNVBrB9NbSrM:

Over the years I've become increasingly wary of the various markets that are now run almost exclusively by computers and have occasionally commented about it in blogs. I've even entertained the possibility, in my high octane speculation mode, that various "flash crash" events seem to have features that suggest that the algorithm "took over" and drove a market event with no connection to human market realities; in this respect, I continue to be unconvinced, for example, by the various explanations of the May 2010 flash crash; call it a suspicion, or a hunch, nothing more. Yes, in short, I've entertained the idea that artificial intelligence (AI) is not "coming" but already "here", and may be infesting the "dark pools" and high frequency trading (HFT) algorithms.
Well, now I'm not the only one, according to these stories shared by Ms. K.M.:
From the first article, I want to draw your attention to the following statements:
Listen Luddites, for the stock market, too, it's a thing about the machines.
Throw away your fundamental analysis, your price charts, interest rates and economic growth forecasts, as the market has lost its moorings.
It is no longer a pyramid of fundamental and technical analysis nor is it a response to changing investor sentiment.
The ongoing multiyear changes in the market structure and dominant investor strategies in which quants, algos and other passive strategies (e.g., ETFs) have replaced active managers raise the same risks that Finchley faced 57 years ago.
And the overwhelming impact of central bankers' largesse is the cherry on the market's non-fundamentally influenced sundae.
As I have written:
"The combination of central bankers' unprecedented largesse (and liquidity) when combined with mindless quant strategies and the enormous popularity of ETFs will, as night follows day, become a toxic cocktail for the equity markets. While we live in an imperfect world, we face (with valuations at a 95% decile on a number of metrics) a stock market that views the world almost perfectly."
Back to JPMorgan's Marko Kalonovic, who is quoted at the top of this piece and again here:
"... some striking facts: to understand this market transformation, note that Passive and Quantitative investors now account for ~60% of equity assets (vs. less than 30% a decade ago). We estimate that only ~10% of trading volumes originates from fundamental discretionary traders. This means that while fundamental narratives explaining the price action abound, the majority of equity investors today don't buy or sell stocks based on stock-specific fundamentals. (Bold emphasis added)
Let that last statement sink in for a moment, for if you, like I, have been wondering just why the heck markets don't make sense any more, it's because they are utterly unconnected to humanity and human decision-making. That "less than ten percent" of trading volume that "originates from fundamental discretionary traders" means that actual human consideration of stock performance, or even equities in a certain specific sector of industry - say, film-making or farm implement manufacture - are based on actual human consideration of the performance, risk, and returns of a particular stock.
I don't know about you, but I find this development more than disturbing.
But before we move on to the second article, pause and consider something else: it is often a criticism or critique that centralized solutions, the "one size fits all" political solutions of the political left are unworkable, precisely because no human being can calculate for all possible circumstances for all human beings: one cannot, as it were, create a bureaucratic policy or algorithm to stick in "guideline notebooks" for every possible situation.
And that raises the thorny philosophical question that no one seems to want to address:
How then, can we expect human creators of computer algorithms to do for markets, what cannot be done for other segments of human interaction by bureaucrats?
With that philosophical point in mind, turn to the second article, and consider these very cogent points made for our friends at Zero Hedge:
Most people think of artificial intelligence and algos as simply executing logical rules programmed into them by humans -- the same rules that the programming humans would follow if they were presented with the same data and data analysis. The algos and AIs are doing it in the same way humans have always done and would do, but at a much slower speed or perhaps not at all because of the very weak and distant relationship of some data items to other data items.
The general belief is that algos and AIs are just "faster humans able to do a lot more calculations in a meaningful time frame". That may NOT be a correct characterization of some of the more powerful AIs that may be working in the markets. Of course, we don't know what AIs are working because there are no regulations requiring that machine decision-making accounts disclose and register as such ... a very, very big gap in regulation.
True, AI and the related "machine learning" developments at the leading edge of such technology do NOT simply duplicate human rules and logic. Instead, while they may perform simple repetitive correlations initially on data as humans currently formulate that data, the more advanced machines go on to program themselves at successive layers, where the data being analyzed and correlated is no longer what we think of as data. Rather, it is often data artifacts created by the first layers in a form that no human would ever consider or has ever seen. To put in a more street-level way, the first level creates ghosts and apparitions and shadows that the second layer treats as real data on which it assesses correlation and predictability in the service of some decision asked of it. AND ... a third and fourth and on and on are doing the same thing with output from each layer below it.
The result of this procedure is striking and terrifying when the the leading experts in AI and machine learning are interviewed. They admit that they have no way of determining what rules AI and machine- learning powered machines are following in making their decisions AND we cannot even know what inputs are being used in making those decisions.
Think about that. The creators have no knowledge of what their creations are thinking or what kind of inputs the machines are thinking about and how decisions about that are being made. The machines are inscrutable and, most terrifyingly important, UNPREDICTABLE.
We are not telling these AIs how to make decisions. The machines are figuring out how to decide to "make a profit" on their own and subject to no enforceable constraint.
The resulting risk of "flash crashes" -- to lump all sudden and unexpected behaviors into a catchphrase -- is unknowable but probably much greater than anyone even dreams. The machines have no fear of flash crashes or any other kind of crash. Such crashes might even serve their purpose of "making a profit."
Note what is really being said:
(1) algorithmic trading generates artifacts in data that no human ever would;
(2) is processing and making trading decisions based on those artifacts;
(3) none of these processes are transparent, and thus, we do not even know why the markets are behaving as they are behaving, we only know they are not reflective of human market realities; and finally,
(4) all this can lead to the risk of flash crashes.
Lest one think that this sounds too incredible to be true, consider the final closing paragraph of this article, which is the biggest jaw-dropper of them all:
Everyone should read this important note from JPMorgan's head quant (hat tip to Zero Hedge) in order to understand how risk parity, volatility trending, stat arb and other quant strategies that are agnostic to balance sheets, income statements and private market value artificially are impacting the capital markets and, temporarily at least, are checking volatility. (Bold and italics emphasis added)
Let that sink in for a moment: because algorithms trade at such extraordinary speed, and execute trades in blocks of equities, little or no correlation is being with actual specific equity performance, such as a human "discretionary investor" would make, looking at "old fashioned analogue sorts of things" like balance sheets, income, profit/loss statements, company indebtedness, cost-earnings ratios, exposure, assets &c... in other words, the algorithms have little to no connection to markets and their realities, much less to human decision-making processes that are normally involved in the investment process.
The bottom line? Well, over the long term, obvious a huge rethink of computer-based trading is in order. Frankly, I'm old fashioned enough to want to see a Wall Street trading floor of shouting traders, piles of paper, and bundles of stock certificates being mailed out every day. But beyond this, there's a short term necessity, perhaps one can call it a strategy, and that's "keep it local", and in "keeping it local" I mean, even for local investments, finding out about their exposure to national and international markets: how much of that local bank's stock is traded on the big markets, and who are the major shareholders? And so on... because, for right now, these machines are at the root of market unreality.
This should, and I hope will, prompt a discussion, and it will have to be a deep one, for the problem of the quants and their algorithms is highlighting the limitations of technology for a human world. The disconnection of markets from real human market activity is a case in point of how technologies have been adapted to a normal human activity - investing and trading - in an inhuman way. And the problem is, if the markets are that far removed from human realities, what will happen if, suddenly, someone pulls the plug? How many would remember how to conduct trades on the floor, the "old fashioned way"?                https://gizadeathstar.com/2017/06/inhuman-markets-even-algorithm-creators-dont-know/                                                                                                      

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Worst Financial Nightmare In Illinois History Erupts As State Comptroller Declares 'We Are In Massive Crisis Mode'

Posted by Conspiracy Cafe on June 21, 2017        ~ how's thum "leaders" work~in fer U.S. ???


By Michael Snyder, on June 18th, 2017

Margaret Thatcher once said that the big problem with socialist governments is that “they always run out of other people’s money”, and unfortunately we are witnessing this play out in a major way in the state of Illinois right now. At this point, the Illinois state government has more than 15 billion dollars of unpaid bills. Yes, you read that correctly. They are already 15 billion dollars behind on their bills, and they are on pace to take in 6 billion dollars less than they are scheduled to spend in 2017. It is the worst financial crisis in the history of Illinois, and State Comptroller Susana Mendoza sounds like she is about ready to tear her hair out in frustration…

“I don’t know what part of ‘We are in massive crisis mode’ the General Assembly and the governor don’t understand. This is not a false alarm,” said Mendoza, a Chicago Democrat. “The magic tricks run out after a while, and that’s where we’re at.”

It’s a new low, even for a state that’s seen its financial situation grow increasingly desperate amid a standoff between the Democrat-led Legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Illinois already has $15 billion in overdue bills and the lowest credit rating of any state, and some ratings agencies have warned they will downgrade the rating to “junk” if there’s no budget before the next fiscal year begins July 1.

Would you continue to do work for the Illinois state government if you knew that they were this far behind on their bills and that it is doubtful that you would be paid any time in the foreseeable future?

Of course the answer to that question is quite obvious. As contractual relationships break down, social services are starting to suffer, and there is not much hope that things will take a turn for the better any time soon.

At this point things have gotten so bad that the Illinois Department of Transportation is planning to cease all roadwork starting on July 1st, and even the Powerball lottery is threatening to cut all ties with the state…

As reported previously, the state Transportation Department said itwould stop roadwork by July 1 if Illinois entered its third consecutive fiscal year without a budget – the longest such stretch of any US state – while the Powerball lottery said it may be forced to dump Illinois over its lack of budget. For now, state workers have continued to receive pay because of court orders, but school districts, colleges and medical and social service providers are under increasing strain.

So what has caused this unprecedented crisis?

At the core, the problem is political. A tense standoff between a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature has resulted in the state going 700 days without a budget…

On May 31, Illinois will have gone 700 days without a budget, an unprecedented political failure. Also on May 31, if a budget is not passed, it could mean that the state could go until 2019—an unimaginable idea, except that senators have already imagined it.

How does a state, led by a successful businessman as governor, a brilliant political strategist in the House, and a consummate dealmaker in the Senate, end up in this kind of political disorganization? Bad political errors led to bad political incentives, and as the problem worsened, so did the political risk of solutions—and what politicians had to ask of their constituents.

This is another example of how deeply divided we are as a nation right now. Democrats hate Republicans and Republicans hate Democrats, and it is getting to the point where the two parties cannot work together on even the most basic things.

In the end, the state of Illinois is either going to have to cut spending dramatically, raise taxes substantially or some combination of both. And since the Democrats have very large majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, I wouldn’t count on spending being cut that much.

This is the thing with big government – it always has a tendency to get even bigger. And the bigger government gets, the more of our money and the more of our freedom it takes away.

That is why I am a huge advocate of dramatically shrinking the size of government on the federal, state and local levels. Like Rand Paul has often said, I want a government so small that I can barely see it.

When you let government get out of control, what you end up with is a ravenous beast that has an endless appetite for more of your money. In Illinois, the money is all gone and the beast is desperately hungry for more.

Sadly, what is happening in Illinois is just the tip of the iceberg. If stock prices start declining from these massively inflated levels, state pension funds all over America are going to be in crisis mode very rapidly. And a new recession would greatly accelerate the financial problems of a whole bunch of states that are already dealing with huge budget shortfalls.

Unfortunately, experts all over the country are warning that the next major downturn is coming very quickly. For example, just consider what Bernard Arnault just told CNBC…

A financial crisis could be just around the corner, according to the chief executive of LVMH, who has described the global economic outlook as “scary”.

“For the economic climate, the present situation is…mid-term scary,” Bernard Arnault told CNBC Thursday.

“I don’t think we will be able to globally avoid a crisis when I see the interest rates so low, when I see the amounts of money flowing into the world, when I see the stock prices which are much too high, I think a bubble is building and this bubble, one day, will explode.”

There is always a price to pay for going into too much debt.

A financial day of reckoning can be delayed for a while, but eventually bad financial decisions are going to catch up with you. The state of Illinois is learning this lesson in a very harsh manner right now, and the country as a whole is on the exact same path as Illinois.

I am often criticized for endlessly warning about America’s coming day of reckoning, but you can’t pile up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world without paying a price.

Just like the state of Illinois, we will pay for decades of exceedingly foolish decisions, and unfortunately this is going to cause severe economic pain throughout our entire society.

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/the-worst-financial-nightmare-in-illinois-history-erupts-as-state-comptroller-declares-we-are-in-massive-crisis-mode

To Keep The Skies Safe, The TSA Wants To Know What You're Reading

Related imagefrom the how-could-this-go-wrong dept

The TSA continues to expand the intrusiveness of its searches, supposedly justified by an increased threat to air travel that doesn't seem to have materialized. In fact, the TSA has admitted attacks on airplanes are the threat voted Least Likely To Occur. One only needs to look at the recent string of terrorist attacks to see there are far more efficient ways to attack the populace than purchasing a ticket and making your way past security.
Nevertheless, the charade continues, only with more of it as often as possible. Fliers are now being asked to stow explosive batteries in the cargo hold and liquid limits are still being enforced to ensure dangerous things like medication and breast milk aren't brought on board.
Now, the TSA wants to know what you're reading. As airlines have increased rates for checked bags, travellers are packing more and more into their carry-on luggage. This is causing problems for the TSA's X-ray machines, which are having more trouble discerning what's actually being carried in passengers' bags. The densest materials are the hardest to "see" through, so TSA agents will now be demanding access to reading materials travelers are carrying.
The TSA is testing new requirements that passengers remove books and other paper goods from their carry-on baggage when going through airline security. Given the sensitivity of our reading choices, this raises privacy concerns.
Tests of the policy are underway in some small airports around the country, and DHS Secretary John Kelly recently said that “we might, and likely will” apply the policy nationwide. “What we’re doing now is working out the tactics, techniques, and procedures, if you will, in a few airports, to find out exactly how to do that with the least amount of inconvenience to the traveler,” he told Fox News. The policy may also apply to food items.
There's no good reason for the government to know what you're reading. In fact, as the ACLU points out in this post, there are protections in place to prevent the government from obtaining that information.
[T]here is a long history of special legal protection for the privacy of one’s reading habits in the United States, not only through numerous Supreme Court and other court decisions, but also through state laws that criminalize the violation of public library reading privacy or require a warrant to obtain book sales, rental, or lending records.
But, as government lawyers have reminded citizens, travelling via air is a privilege, not a right, even in a country where someone's destination might be 3,000 miles away. (Travelling by car has its own set of Fourth Amendment problems. It's also far more dangerous. Deciding to drive not only takes longer, but subjects people to a whole new set of issues.) The decision to fly means allowing the government to do whatever it wants to make flying secure, even if nearly everything it does has zero effect on curbing terrorist activity.
There are plenty of reasons people might not want to share their reading habits with other fliers in eyesight of the examination are, much less a bunch of government employees with the power to detain people for almost any reason. It's not just about hiding trashy novels from TSA agents. It's about any number of reading materials that could subject to additional scrutiny by the government.
For example, in 2010 the ACLU sued on behalf of a man who was abusively interrogated, handcuffed, and detained for nearly five hours because he was carrying a set of Arabic-language flash cards and a book critical of U.S. foreign policy. We also know that the DHS database known as the “Automated Targeting System,” which tracks information on international travelers, has included notations in travelers’ permanent files about controversial books in their possession.
Since the searches aren't limited to books, but any set of papers flagged by scanners, lawyers carrying privileged legal documents might find themselves having to these over to TSA agents to page through. Reading anything about national security and/or terrorism is likely to result in enhanced screening efforts and (possibly) missed flights. The government has no right to know what you're reading, but it has the right to make you hand over everything you're hoping to carry onboard to do with it what it pleases. This includes adding travellers to secret lists that are almost impossible to be removed from or simply asking a bunch of irrelevant questions based on the incredibly faulty premise that terrorists would read certain materials when engaged in acts of terrorism.
The ACLU suggests two things the TSA can do to minimize privacy violations. One would be strict policies and new training procedures to better ensure travelers' privacy and to prevent the additional search from becoming a handy way to increase detentions and add travelers to secret lists.
The second thing would be more along the privacy lines voluntarily adopted by companies selling and shipping sensitive goods: the plain brown packaging program. Travellers should be allowed to use plain book covers to obscure titles and other sensitive information while still allowing agents to verify the books are just books and not, say, sheets of explosives or hollowed-out weapons containers. The TSA should only be interested in ensuring a book is a book. It should have zero interest in the title or content of travellers' reading materials.
X-ray machines are supposed to minimize intrusiveness by allowing travellers to keep their bags closed. The TSA is undoing this small privacy protection step-by-step, with books and other papers following electronic devices onto X-ray belts and into the hands of TSA agents. If the TSA is honest about its reasons for examining books separately, the lack of exterior identifying information shouldn't pose a problem. If it does, the TSA (or the agent performing the search) has ulterior motives and should be prevented from stripping away yet another layer of personal privacy at security checkpoints.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ed Sheeran: Piracy Is What Made Me   ~ hehe hows THAT fer a new biz ...model ???Image result for pic of skull and crossbones

from the good-guy dept

We all know by now the music industry's mantra that piracy kills artists. Well, not kills kills, but kills their musical careers before they could even really begin, so destructive is the dissemination of free music amongst the public. After all, if the public doesn't pay for every last instance of every last bit of music, how in the world could musical artists ever make a living? This mantra is one that tends to be applied universally to the concept of free music by the industry, with zero in the way of nuanced discussions about potential business models that might work for some, or many, artists.
Except that that's silly. It ignores the power of freely disseminated music in helping musicians to be discovered in the first place, where they can then go on and make all kinds of money through what have always been better profit-centers for artists, such as concerts, merchandise and the like. Many artists don't understand this, swallowing the industry's mantra whole. But there are exceptions, such as Ed Sheeran, who began his career sans record label, promoting himself instead.
Beyond writing the songs, Sheeran also wrote his own rules about how to sell them. Like so many others, he had set off for London as a teenager, singing on street corners and in pubs. But he didn’t knock on record company doors or wait to be discovered. Instead, he began marketing his own stuff, releasing his music himself on websites until -- inevitably -- a record label came calling. He had already earned half a million from his independent sales, putting the music out himself.
“What I didn’t have was infrastructure,” Sheeran said. “They have an American label, they have a Japanese label, they have an Australian label. So that’s what I was signing for.”
And that infrastructure is where labels can indeed provide some value. Except it's simply not the value for which labels have taken so much credit for far too long. There was no initial discovery and nurturing done by the labels in Sheeran's case. Sheeran did that himself. Instead, the labels came calling after the initial work was done and pitched even wider distribution in exchange for slapping their names on an already ascending star. This serves as a rebuttal to some of the reaction you see in cases such as Run The Jewels, with some complaining that their free music strategy chiefly worked because they were already a household name. Sheeran's case is the opposite, in which he became a household name because of his free music strategy. It's not that the strategy is easily portable to every artist in every case, but it does remind us that the blanket disgust toward piracy by the music industry is not supported by reality either.
But even after the labels were involved, Sheeran indicates a clear understanding of how and why his music supercharged his fame to the household status it now has.
Who helped him first? Fans, he says. “It was file sharing. I know that’s a bad thing to say, because I’m part of a music industry that doesn’t like illegal file sharing.”
“Code for piracy.”
“Yeah, but illegal fire sharing was what made me. It was students in England going to university, sharing my songs with each other.”
And what is his view on file sharing now? “I don’t think file sharing exists now.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, I think people rip off YouTube. That’s a thing. But I feel like it’s so easy to stream.”
Sheeran's case goes beyond simply giving music away, of course. His treatment of his fans creates a bond as well, one that fosters a desire among the fanbase to support him. The free music alone isn't enough, he needed his personality and talent, as well, to make it work. Still, it's easy to read shrugged shoulders into his comments on music piracy in the present, and obvious gratitude for it in his past. It's unfortunate how rare this mode of thinking is, which is why it's a bit jarring to hear a star like Sheeran say something as profound as "illegal filesharing was what made me." You can almost hear the groan from label executives as you read the words from a man far too busy counting his money and making his art to care.
And, to counter another industry claim that any gain by an artist through piracy is short-lived, it's worth noting that Sheeran's latest work is selling, and selling well. At a record breaking pace, in fact, even as the concert venues continue to sell out for Sheeran's appearances. Related image
Not bad for a young man who credits piracy for all that glory.

Run The Jewels Succeeds With Free Music And A True Connection With Fans

from the doing-it-right dept

Techdirt has always been a place where we have discussed new emerging business models for the entertainment industry, including the music business. For far too long, there has been a battle about how musicians should monetize their art, with one side claiming that infinitely reproducable music files should be costly out of respect for the musicians and the labels that produce them, and the other side pointing out that this doesn't make any economic sense and that there are plenty of ways for artists to monetize their work without pretending the internet doesn't exist. Free music has always been at the forefront of this discussion, as some artists have given away music files as a way to make money elsewhere: live concerts, merchandise, etc. Yet, no matter how much money the new models can and do make for those musicians that embrace them, there is a stigma about what is essentially art enjoyed for free. And that stigma is often dressed up as a concern for artists.
Yet that concern must wane as examples of artists making the internet work for them have proliferated. And those examples are no longer relegated to smaller artists with short music lifespans. Recently, Killer Mike and El-P from the exploding hiphop group Run The Jewels were guests on The Daily Show (we can't embed the video because Comedy Central, stupidly and inexplicably, doesn't use HTTPS — but you can view it at that link, or this one for our Canadian readers). While most of that conversation didn't revolve around the music industry, the first few minutes of the interview certainly did and both artists' explanation for why they chose to give away their music should sound quite familiar to Techdirt readers. Here's El-P:
I ran a record label for 10 years back in the day, I ran a record label called Def Jux, and it completely collapsed under the weight of the whole music industry, essentially. People stopped buying and we were based on an old model.
We kind of did the first record just as a thank you to our fans. We were really thankful that we had our solo careers, we had been working together, and we didn't want to go through everything. We didn't want to look at the first week sales, we didn't want to compete, we just wanted to give something away. It just occurred to us, it just felt right. We wanted to get the hearts and minds of people, we didn't want to trick them into buying a record with one single and, you know, we just didn't want to play the game.
We released it and we just gave it to everybody and said "if you like it, support us, and if you don't? That's fair."
What is clearly on display are two artists, one of whom had previously run a record label, that are far more interested in their art and their fans than they are playing the record label business game. Instead, Run The Jewels decided to give their music away for free, while also setting up a way for their fans to support them by buying the music as well, and it is working. Why? Why would young hip hop fans with internet connections choose to pay for music that was otherwise available for free?
Because Killer Mike and El-P connect with their fans on so many levels -- they treat their fans well, don't take themselves too seriously, and have built up a following that enjoys their work. For example, the whole Meow the Jewels effort from a couple years ago fits right in with our increasingly long list of examples artists connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy. It started with (of course), offering the music for free, combined with a variety of premium packages -- including the "I'm on the List, Asshole" package, in which you get backstage passes to a bunch of shows, and a promise that El-P and Killer Mike will pretend to be friends with you. But El-P also joked about remixing the album with just cat sounds, called "Meow the Jewels." And their fans took them seriously and put together a Kickstarter campaign. The guys originally felt uncomfortable about this, but eventually embraced it with a plan to donate all the music to charity. And, of course, they did, in fact, make the remix, and it's... actually pretty cool.
But it's not all jokes. Both guys are politically active and outspoken, which has helped build an even stronger connection with those who agree with their political leanings. In addition, the group also still makes all kinds of money off of merchandise and concerts, which has always been a key source for musician income. What's missing is a traditional record label siphoning away money for the kind of marketing efforts the band can now do themselves because of the internet and free music -- which enables a two-way path with the fans. It helps the group connect with the fans and deliver them awesome music, while also allowing the fans to support the artists back. No label needed.
Were the stories told by the labels accurate, we shouldn't even know who Run The Jewels and these two artists are, never mind being able to watch them explode onto the scene in the way they have. This is a success story that needs to be bookmarked and used as a rebuttal against those that say music must not be given away for fear of artists failing to make it.

The Doors - Light my Fire (Best Live Version!)

  THE   time to ...
hes·i·tate    is thru
ˈhezəˌtāt/
verb
verb: hesitate; 3rd person present: hesitates; past tense: hesitated; past participle: hesitated; gerund or present participle: hesitating
pause before saying or doing something, especially through uncertainty.

"she hesitated, unsure of what to say"

synonyms:pause, delay, wait, shilly-shally, dither, stall, temporize; More
be of two minds, be uncertain, be unsure, be doubtful, be indecisive, hedge, equivocate, fluctuate, vacillate, waver, waffle, have second thoughts, think twice;
informaldilly-dally, blow hot and cold, get cold feet, hem and haw

"she hesitated, unsure of what to say"
be reluctant to do something.

"he hesitated to spoil the mood by being inquisitive"

synonyms:be reluctant, be unwilling, be disinclined, scruple; More

The Doors - Light my Fire (Best Live Version!)