Ballroom Dancing

SXSW panels

Ballroom Dancing
Photo By Gary Miller

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Austin Convention Center, Thursday, March 16

The Upload Download panel was formatted as a hypothetical with the panelists all role-playing. The Fat Americans are on the verge of being the biggest band in the world. The next album, Cheese With Everything, is almost in the can, and once released, it's a lock to sell a few quintillion copies. The previous year, the Fat Americans were the most stolen-from artist, with some 90 million illegal downloads. And in a Metallica-like twist, the band has gone from being pro-pirating ("Give the fans the music") to pro-money ("America's children have to stop fucking stealing"). So the band's manager is dealing with the label, whose solution is to low-level license/give it to everyone and at a reduced rate. The band wants all its money and zero "sharing" and at every step ups the ante, including a threat to release virus-ridden files that will destroy downloaders' hard drives. At every step, the factions get more petty. The manager is griping at the label. The band is getting testy with journalists looking to break the story, etc. Someone used the phrase "put the genie back in bottle" early on, and 10 years after the industry was caught with its pants down, they still haven't found a way to lift their trousers from their ankles.

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