Dave Allen

Tim Quirk works for Google Play

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In defense of Tim

I count Tim as a friend and also as a fellow traveler in the world of creating music. Like Tim I have worked for an online music company or two and like Tim, when it came time to put my daughter through college I stopped touring and took on a job. To admit to that creates suspicion amongst our musical elders and internet music naysayers. He may be figuratively tarred and feathered and slandered as a “corporate shill,” “Google-shill” “traitor” and more as I have been, both here and in the comments section of the Op-ed piece I wrote for the Guardian. They are just words and phrases and they are written and uttered by people who have lost the war, not just the battles, to keep music confined to a round, shiny disc that costs $18.99. There is much irony in that last sentence when you think of the ones and zeros that allow a laser to replicate the content of those discs.

Tim has managed to be both confrontational and astute with the speech he gave at the Future of Music Summit. You can read the whole thing here. And from what I have read he is absolutely right. There is nothing but unparalleled opportunity for musicians these days. There has been a societal shift that some musicians ignore, but those who don’t ignore it and supply its demand, are thriving. Unfortunately, by bestowing my support upon him, he will no doubt be hearing from the same folks who attack me. For that Tim I ask your forgiveness.

Here’s an extract from the audience Q&A after Tim had delivered his speech:

Audience Member: So I agree with actually quite a bit of what you had to say but it sounded like dangerously close to implying that music hasn’t been devalued somehow. Do you care to elaborate on that part, because you were pretty clear on the rest of it, I think.

Tim: Yeah, I meant what I said very very literally:

You cannot devalue music.
That doesn’t mean that the perceived value of music hasn’t changed and the value to artists of the creators of particular music in particular contexts isn’t different today than it was yesterday, but that’s a wholly different thing than changing the value of music.

Audience Member: So I understand what you’re saying. I would be very careful to say that lamenting or moaning, it’s very easy to say that if you work at Google. If your livelihood depends on recorded music having value, you have to focus on that bottom tier especially for independent artists. The top tier, the big money winners, that’s very different.

Tim: The top tier, look, I’m not just a guy who works for Google, right. I’m an artist and a creator as well. As Peter Jenner said the majority of his artists were unsuccessful artists. I was, I mean, by my standards I was a successful artist, you know, we had a nice publishing deal, we had a major label deal, we toured a lot, we sold a bunch of merchandise, we had more fans than I ever thought we could, but it wasn’t gonna put my daughter through college. Google is helping me do that.

I would love to; I would trade in a heartbeat, the ability to start my band today versus starting my band in 1987. I just think the opportunity is vastly superior.

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