We made some headway on the bedroom yesterday, but we need to push hard today as well. Bea gets a trip to the vet and a haircut today. I should try to grind out the last of my lectionary helps for assignment #1 (I have two more sets of lectionary helps to produce in the next few weeks).

Yesterday Si and I were talking about the article in the NY Times Magazine (registration required) Prince’s clueful approach to making a living in the digital media environment. Si kept focusing on Prince’s megamillions; I certainly respect his (Prince’s, not Si’s) capacity to generate massive revenues, but since arguments about digital handcuffs on music recordings typically try to represent themselves as a favor for the smaller-scale artist, I promoted the cause of Michelle Shocked (warning: involuntary music track for site, sorry), who has been making her way as a recording and performing musician in the digital environment, without a record label owning her, for a number of years. Like Prince, she rebelled against a restrictive contract; like Prince, she protested that she was in effect a slave (she sued Mercury Records under California statutes against involuntary servitude, and entitled her 1996 album with Fiachna O’Braonain “Artists Make Lousy Slaves”); like Prince, she won her free agency; but unlike Prince, she’s not a purple-obsessed multimillionaire. She’s making modest records and terrific concert appearances, selling music online (albeit with fierce, sharing-hostile monitory notes), and doing okay for herself. Her new album comes out in September, and I’m sure to buy a download.

The industrial mediators of music distribution have enthralled the populace with their glamourous promise of wealth and notoriety, but that lottery-hit windfall comes only to a tiny proportion of the musicians from whose energies and creativity the industry profits. If we’re looking for proof that musicians can manage just fine in the digital environment, let‘s look not only at Prince, but at Michelle Shocked, too.

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