“Would you consider the possibility that I wasn’t saying something stupid?”

On Tuesday, Hypebot posted the T Bone Burnett videos I shot at the FMC Policy Summit, which drew some spirited comments from their readers.  Yesterday, T Bone was in flight, and spent about an hour replying to many of those comments.

T Bone showed remarkable restraint in his replies, especially considering the tone and tenor of some of the comments (people were alternately telling T Bone to “grow up” and that he was “too old to get it.”  The most interesting bits are excerpted below, you can find all of the exchanges here.

On the FMC talk…

I am on a plane for five hours and thought I’d take a few minutes to respond to a few of the posts on this web log beginning with yours.  I said that if I were starting off today, knowing what I know now, I would stay completely off the internet.  That, of course, is not possible.  So what do you think I was saying?

Would you consider the possibility that I wasn’t saying something stupid?  If you are a musician, I am on your side.  I am fighting for a fairer, more ethical future for musicians.  I have been doing this for a long time, and I have to say, in all honesty, that as larcenous as the record companies have been, the internet makes them look like Robin Hoods.  I am fully aware of the possibilities of putting together and managing a database on the Internet.  The Internet is a powerful tool for sharing information- great for research.  It is, however, an indisputable fact that digital technology does not capture music as fully as analogue technology.  If one can’t hear the difference between a tape recording and an mp3, he should not quit his day job.  It is also inarguable that every copy on the internet is by the nature of the technology- free.

Digital is not the end of technology.  In my view, for music, it is a detour.  There are better sounding, more stable, more robust technologies to store music available now, and there are many possibilities for the future.

I have spent a great deal of time for the last twenty or so years thinking about and dealing with this issue.  The strategy I outlined at the Future of Music conference was meant for anyone who understood what I was getting at.  For those who couldn’t hear it, it was no advice at all.  I am not standing in anyone’s way.

On the Internet…

Though I would wish it to be so, I do not believe that the internet is ushering in a world of peace and harmony and community. At the moment it looks most like an advertising platform.

The internet, is at this moment, an amateur medium. I trust that some day, this internet, or another one, will turn into something strong and filled with beauty and truth. As things stand, though there are the occasional bright spots (such as this from Arcade Fire http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com/ ), it is fragile and filled with nonformation. We can see this by the defensiveness (and offensiveness) of many of its proponents. At any rate, by any standards, it is a medium of extremely low quality, as exemplified by the unlistenable mp3 format.

I hope the best for the future, but I do not have the kind of fervid belief in technology that causes the citizens of iTopia to behave in as close minded, threatened, and hostile a way as fundamentalists in any other religion.

On his MySpace Page…

We have had that myspace page for a few years. We have been trying to cancel the account for weeks. They have not shut it off. I suspect that’s because they are selling ads on the site.

On Self-Promotion…

If you are a hack, all the self promotion in the world will only let more people know what a self promoting hack you are.

If you are a good musician, work until you are great- as great as Chris Thile, as great as the Punch Brothers. You won’t have much of a problem getting people to notice you then.

On the Future of Music…

Technology changes every few years.  (Do you have anything to play your floppy discs on?  Do you think there will be mp3 players in twenty years?  In five years?  I don’t).  It is crucial to me as a musician that my work be of the highest possible quality.  It is crucial to me as a recording artist that my music be recorded and stored (and distributed, if I choose to distribute it) on the strongest possible medium.  How other people copy and distribute it (if you allow that) is another matter entirely.

The future of music is analogue.  Guitars are analogue.  Pianos are analogue.  Drums are analogue.  Music is analogue.  We are analogue.