August 01, 2005

money makes you famous

Eliot Spitzer's fight to end payola has been making progress, though it's far from over...

"But in the end, even within the tighter restrictions, the major labels simply have more money and manpower to wheedle programmers into adding their music to broadcast play lists."

Payola or No, Edge Still to the Big

"Payola restricts access to the public airways; only artists whose labels are willing and able to pay get played. Listeners who might enjoy something else won't hear it from stations on the take. And when fans go to the record store, they'll find that payola has driven up the price of CD's."

The Price of Fame

"like it not, every popular song you've ever loved has reached you via some chain of pay-for-play machinations"

Broken Record

Posted by halsey at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2005

wow, imagine that!

People who illegally share music files online are also big spenders on legal music downloads, research suggests.

"There's a myth that all illegal downloaders are mercenaries hell-bent on breaking the law in pursuit of free music."

Let's go out and sue some more of our top customers, shall we?

Posted by halsey at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2005

musicians weigh in on filesharing


July 21, 2005 – Press Release

Musician, Halsey Burgund of aesthetic evidence and Bring Your Own Voice, is releasing an online recording tool that he developed to facilitate the collection of spoken voices for his music. This technology enables any user with an internet connection and a microphone on their computer to record, in high fidelity, their voice or any other sound. There are no software requirements other than a browser equipped with the free Macromedia Flash plug-in. Burgund developed this technology initially to enable him to collect voices of musicians around the world who support filesharing.

He is asking musicians to record themselves stating “I am a musician and I support filesharing” as well as explain their reasons for supporting this technology. By bringing together a large group of musician’s voices into one piece of music, Burgund hopes to counter the music industry’s insistent claims that filesharing is hurting musicians.

Burgund believes in copyright and other intellectual property laws, but feels that as big business lobbys Congress more and more, the copyright laws are being shifted to benefit corporate copyright holders whose main intentions are to make money, not to spread culture and help further the creativity of our society.

“This project is a great way of stirring up debate and bringing musicians together to raise awareness of the important role filesharing plays in the freedom and distribution of culture in today’s internet world” says Kembrew McLeod, professor at the University of Iowa and author of “Freedom of Expression” (2005, Doubleday).

Professor McLeod along with Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky, are supporting this project with their voices and their words.

This online recording technology supplements Burgund’s Bring Your Own Voice booth - a portable recording booth he sets up in various locations to collect the voices of willing passers-by.

About Halsey Burgund:

Halsey Burgund, the motive force behind aesthetic evidence and Bring Your Own Voice, builds his music around words that are spoken and recorded in a completely non-musical context. The notion of creating music out of everyday expressions not normally considered musical is the cornerstone of his approach.

By incorporating voice recordings of otherwise uninvolved individuals, this music not only explores the vast array of textures the human voice can exhibit, but also is able to offer a unique opportunity to participating individuals.

Burgund recently released his first album, ‘words and voices’, of songs written in this style.

Posted by halsey at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2005

songs for a cause

Maybe this could be the name of a future album of mine. I find myself feeling more and more 'active' as of late. I use this work in the 'activist' sense, not the 'get off my ass and run around' sense. I get plenty of exercise, and that obsession won't stop any time soon, I don't imagine. There are some causes that I have always supported, but all of a sudden I am feeling like perhaps I can make a difference via my music.

As many of you know, I am in the midst of collecting material for a pro-filesharing song. This is a cause I care very strongly about. And I soon hope to setup a webpage where I can collect voices of supporters of Ocean Revolution, an initiative that intends to preserve something else very near and dear to me: the ocean.
Music has a history of activism and support for various causes and this makes perfect sense. Music is an emotional endeavor and the best way to generate support for a cause is through emotional means, I would argue. The strongest supporters of anything are not those who are paid the most, but rather are those who care the most. Can I make people care more through my music?

I'm not sure that I could ever actually create strong feelings of support in anyone, but I do feel that I could strengthen support and feelings that already exist in people by showing them that they are part of a community who feel similarly and giving them an outlet that is not normally available to them.

I really like the idea of my songs being little communities of the people whose voices inhabit them. I don't know exactly what it is, but I find it to be exciting.

Posted by halsey at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2005

even good intentions can be abused

I think I'm going to patent the following:

A method for producing musical works using the combination of collected recordings of spoken human voices with traditional and electronic instruments.

Or how about:

A method of recording spoken voices in public places consisting of a microphone and a plywood box.

With a good patent attorney, I could make a living suing musicians. Wouldn't that be a fun and worthy cause?

Patent Absurdity

Posted by halsey at 03:51 PM | Comments (4)

June 29, 2005

maybe it's not so bad...

This week's Supreme Court decision in the Grokster case was disappointing for sure. But I still contend that truly useful technology will find a way to be used no matter what the robed nine say. There are plenty of people out there who will never stop innovating their way around both the good and the bad laws. Jon Pareles agrees with me and does it much more convincingly:

The Court Has Ruled so Enter the Geeks

Posted by halsey at 08:40 AM | Comments (0)

the age of generosity

It is fascinating to read an article like this:

Web Content by and for the Masses

in today's world.

Some companies are realizing that the culture of sharing can be not only beneficial to society, but profitable as well. Others, as we know, are doing everything possible to clamp down on this sort of sharing, isolating the creators from each other and separating even more the haves from the have-nots.
It feels like we have two societal factions racing at breakneck speed in opposite directions. How is it going to reconcile?

Posted by halsey at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005

James W. Newton is a greedy ass

This is good news:

Chock one up for reason and logic

Posted by halsey at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2005

sue all the children!!

This is hilarious, but I will warn you right now IT CONTAINS SOME STRONG LANGUAGE!! Actually, I take that back; it contains almost exclusively strong language. This is another way of saying that you should all check it out unless you are my parents, in which case you probably shouldn't...

Sue All the World!!

I recommend all the other 'Napster Bad' cartoons as well if you want a good laugh and a scary take on the reality of what is still happening in our world today.

Posted by halsey at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2005

the greater good

My sister is a scientist and a professor. She spends her time dreaming up new and exciting ways of furthering our understanding of the human brain. This is a vast simplification of her work, but for my purposes here, it is adequate.
Now, the only way she can tell if the research she is doing is actually advancing science is by having a clear and up to date understanding of all prior work that has been done by scientists around the globe in her area of research. This is an ever changing body of work, documented in numerous scientific journals. These journals are predicated upon the notion of full disclosure, which makes perfect sense because science is about discovering the 'truth' and one must strive to prove this elusive 'truth' by basing one's work on that which has come before it and that which has been widely accepted as correct.
So I am getting a bit long winded here. My point is that my sister and all academic researchers in every field base their research on the research of others. They build off of each other in a symbiotic way that is both incredibly efficient at uncovering the truth and also manages to reward the producers of significant advances despite the fact that they give their content to the community for free. OK, so now is it starting to make sense why I am babbling on and on about this?
Academic science flourishes because of the immediate, complete and free sharing of 'content'. Why can't our culture flourish in much the same way? Is it really all that different when a musician hears something that someone else has done and is impressed enough to reprocess the idea in his or her own way? A successful scientist does not get paid directly for having her articles published in prestigious journals. But she strives day and night to get published in those very journals because of the indirect compensation. First and foremost, recognition of colleagues plays a large role. The pride associated with having one's work influence a greater understanding as well as becoming a small link in a chain of discovery dating back hundreds of years and which will (hopefully) continue on for hundreds of years to come also must feel great. But these academics all seem to be able to pay their mortgages and support families and even occasionally go on vacations, right? How do they do it? They are paid by universities to research and teach. They are given grants. They are paid to give lectures. They write and publish books.
When my sister publishes a paper that furthers the ideas set forth by another scientist, she does not have to pay anyone for creating this 'derivative work' nor does she have to ask permission of the original creator nor must she hire a team of lawyers at great expense to clear the rights. All she has to do is cite the original author and focus on what makes her work new and therefore a worthy addition. Her peers decide this by publishing it or not. This is why scientific progress is so efficient.
Academia has created an environment in which its participants can give away the fruits of their labor for free and yet still sustain themselves personally and institutionally. Can such a system be created for artists in which we could paint paintings, write music, take photographs, make films etc etc and give them away for free and still be able to put food on the table and be fairly recognized for our creations/contributions? I've always thought that the real way musicians would make money in the future was not through the sale of cds (this would almost be a loss-leader of sorts) but through performing in the traditional sense as well as innovative other ways of entertaining.

I understand that there are fundamental differences between art and science, so my argument here (which really is much more of a brainstorm than anything coherent) does tend to break down in the details, but I still think it is interesting to think about. There are just as many 'greater good' benefits to a community of artistic creators as there are to a community of scientific creators, I would argue. I suppose the main difference is that on the whole, the financial potential for scientific creators is greater than that of artistic creators, and perhaps that's the very thing that will make these musings fall apart here at the very end.
I really don't know what is possible, but I do know that I am personally very invested in the future of culture and of the creative process, and I am fearful that the law is gumming up the wheels in well intentioned, but short-sighted and overaggressive ways. Ways that will ensure that a cultural environment like the one I describe above will have a very hard time coming into existence.
But I still say 'why not?'

These are just late night ramblings, and I apologize. Please poke holes. I am tired, but still find it interesting despite the expected gaps of knowledge, leaps of faith and inconsistencies.

Posted by halsey at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2005


I just created this really cool world map to keep a running tally of the participation I have gotten in my filesharing song project. This is a global issue, and I really would like to demonstrate global support in this song through a wide geographic spread of contributing musicians. I hope that seeing this map and giving recognition to the participants will encourage more musicians to join us.
Plus, this map is really freaking cool how you can zoom in with amazing detail!

Check it out:

Filesharing Song Contributions

Posted by halsey at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2005

I am a musician...

and I support filesharing.
I am embarking on a quest to collect the voices of musicians across the world who believe that filesharing can be beneficial to musicians and can help to break the lethal hold that the major labels have on the progress and promotion of music today. I have enlisted the assistance of Downhill Battle, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting filesharing and alternative ways of helping musicians survive in the unfriendly world of big-label music.

Musicians, come out and say you support filesharing!

Please visit my site dedicated to this cause:

Speak Out: Musicians Must Unite to Keep Culture Free

If you are a musician and believe in this cause, please donate your voice, and if you know musicians who might be interested, please forward this along to them. The more voices, the more compelling the message.

Please continue reading for the email message from me that Downhill Battle sent out to their mailing lists.


Musician's voices needed for pro-filesharing music. Let your voice be heard!

What I do:
My name is Halsey Burgund and I write music based in large part on voice recordings that I collect in the field. They might be specific readings, poetry, narration, opinions etc, but in each case, the resulting song has a specific intent. I am now collecting recordings for a new song about the benefits of filesharing, specifically that it can be good for musicians. Therefore, I am collecting recordings of musicians making pro-filesharing statements which I will use in forthcoming music.

How you can help:
Please go to the following url ( and record the text contained therein. Essentially, I want musicians saying "I am a musician and I support filesharing", but I also want your reasons and opinions on the topic.

Why you might want to participate:
Clearly you are a Downhill Battle supporter or you would not be on this mailing list. Clearly you think the current day monopolies in the music industry are not good for the future of music in our society. This is a way to help spread the word about filesharing and express your opinion in a different fashion. I will be letting Downhill Battle use the resulting music as they see fit, so you will be supporting this group's efforts at the same time.

Thank you very much for your consideration and the assistance in fighting the good fight. We, as musicians, must come together and speak out if we want to effect any change. And the more creatively we do this, the better.

Collectively, our voice will be heard.

Posted by halsey at 09:02 AM | Comments (2)

May 04, 2005


I was about to shoot myself at work, so I decided to go on a bike ride this afternoon to clear my head and get exercise. I had the second movement of Beethoven's 5th in my head the entire time and was thinking to myself how lucky I was to have all these great melodies floating around in my head and in the collective heads of our society. And then I started thinking about the closing down of clutural freedom that some of our lawmakers seem to be advocating in the name of capitalism and - other than getting angry - I just couldn't imagine a world in which this melody in my head keeping me going on my bike ride and giving me some happiness in an otherwise not very pleasant day wasn't free and available. I mean, no one disputes that Beethoven wrote this melody, and I doubt anyone would argue that the man himself should not have been compensated for contributing this beauty to the world, but thank god I'm not going to get a bill in the mail tomorrow from his estate for my thoughts.

Creative people do deserve to be compensated somehow for what they do. That's the only way they will be able to continue to do what they do. However, the method of compensation and the insistence on compensation for any use of any two second snippet of something will dry up our creative souls even quicker than no compensation at all. As per my thoughts yesterday, all art feeds off of previous art in one way or another and that symbiotic relationship is being put in danger, I would argue, by the direction of copyright law nowadays and the RIAA suing ten year olds.

The good news is that I quit my job yesterday, so I don't have too much longer of being forced to waste my time and be associated with such an embarassment.

Posted by halsey at 06:35 PM | Comments (4)

April 12, 2005

remixing culture

This kind of stuff gets me all worked up.

Exploring the Right to Share, Mix and Burn

It is so exciting to see people in positions of power and mass influence support such a worthy cause. This has reivigorated my excitement about my pro-filesharing song idea which Downhill Battle is helping me with.

Posted by halsey at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2005

Supreme (updated)

Today is HUGE day in our nation's highest court.

The War Over Downloading

Let's hope for the best.


Here's how it went:

Lively Debate as Justices Address File Sharing

Posted by halsey at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)