artists are actually making a living from their music
I do not know, so I speculate. There are three basic ways for an artist to make
money from their music.  perform,  sell their recordings and/or written
material &  teach.
For this an artist needs venues, that is, a place where someone is willing to
pay them to play.
 Selling recorded
and/or written material. This is the area with the most highly developed infrastructure
(middlemen) for the manufacture and distribution of artists work. Consequently,
it is the area with the greatest potential for exploitation - by pirates both
INSIDE and OUTSIDE the music industry. There are plenty of heavy hitters to protect
the music industry from the outside pirates (such as the The Recording
Industry Association of America(RIAA) ASCAP, BMI & SESAC.) But who protects
us from the pirates inside the music industry
"Virtually all artists
(95%) depend on these [recorded music] fees to make a living." (RIAA
--- The RIAA is referring
to music that has been produced by the recording industry they represent.
"The Recording Industry Association of America(RIAA) is the trade group
that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business
and legal climate that supports and promotes our members' creative and financial
vitality. Its members are the record companies.... RIAA® members create,
manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings
produced and sold in the United States." (Emphasis added)
protects us from the pirates inside the music industry
Be careful. If and when you are offered that holy grail of a recording contract
- read the fine print. A common clause in those contracts states
that the company has exclusive rights to all of your future work,
including performances. They may not even allow you to perform for free with your
friends at a public place. I am not suggesting you turn down the offer. Just get
ye to a lawyer pronto; preferably a lawyer familiar with the music industry.
Unfortunately, those of us outside the music industry have scant resources to
protect ourselves from the huge legal structure that the music industry has built
to protect their own interests. What they want from artists is an increase in
their bottom line. Your enjoyment of your art may not be high on their list.
it legal to share public domain music across the Internet
Yes. That is what
public domain means.
it the RIAA's business to force Internet providers to block royalty-free or self-published
More to the point - Is it feasible for web sites to provide a method for sharing
music offered directly by musicians (free or otherwise)
There is a great deal of legally available free music that is not in the public
domain. Most of this music has been specifically authorized for free download
and sharing by the copyright owners.
"There are currently over 240
million users downloading and trading files legally on file-sharing networks.
You can ... legally download music from over 850 bands [and] over 20,000 live
But, The Recording Industry Association
of America(RIAA) frowns
on the ability to download any music because they are afraid of the potential
effect on the recording industry's bottom line.
"That's why we are
sending a clear message that downloading or 'sharing' music from a peer-to-peer
network without authorization is illegal, it can have consequences and
it undermines the creative future of music itself." (RIAA news may2006-
This is a dead link. I leave it here to show RIAA's position before they lost
the sharing battle.)
that the RIAA refers to, above, comes from United
States Copyright law, not from the recording industry. Sometimes the
authorization comes directly from the artist and sometimes you are authorized
to download the material because the copyright has expired.
RIAA is focusing on piracy. In my oponion, that is where their efforts belonged
in the first place.
"Our goal with all these anti-piracy efforts
is to protect the ability of the recording industry to invest in new bands
and new music and, in the digital space, to give legal online services a chance
to flourish."(Piracy: Online
and On The Street RIAA:link March 2010)
Doesn't RIAA and the
recording industry have a right to protect their interests
Of course! However, it is not necessarily in their interest to protect
your interest. That is up to you. Having a wonderful
song is not is not all it takes to attract and satisfy the interest of the recording
industry. Having a recording contract is not all it takes to persue your love
of music and pay the bills.