What You Will

Another Burma Shave billboard on the information superhighway. Random thoughts about arts, faith, culture, music, language, literature, and the shortcomings of the Hegelian dialectic. (OK, just kidding about that last bit.)

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Location: Edmonds, Washington, United States

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Public Radio International: Music thieves?

Here's a little radio piece on European buskers (street musicians), reported by one Gerry Hadden for PRI's "The World" show. I suppose his preference for Dire Straits covers over buoyant Gypsy violin playing must be chalked up to a matter of taste. But perhaps the most intriguing part of Hadden's story is an encounter with a busker in Rome:

Walking down a broad avenue I come upon an African man playing a conically shaped stringed instrument. So I start to record. But when notices me he abruptly stops playing, stands up and shoves me.

He must have me pegged for some audio paparazzi. I don't understand his Italian but I do recognize the universal symbol of a raised fist. So I move on.

Whether or not that guy was famous he certainly acted like it.

As a onetime busker myself, I can shed some light on why this musician was upset about being taped. No matter whether a musician is “famous” or not, it’s rude and unethical to record a performance without permission. Furthermore, in the case of buskers and all other musicians trying to make a living with their music, it’s also unethical to broadcast that music without compensating them for it. Most buskers aren't collecting publishing royalties, ticket revenues, or appearance fees. Busking is like public radio – just because you can hear it without paying first doesn’t mean it’s free. If Hadden didn’t compensate the musicians he recorded for his piece – or obtain releases from them – then shame on him.


Blogger adooma said...

Thank you for what you wrote - I totally agree with you - if you record or even video tape or photograph a busker without their permission, then you are a thief.

11:29 AM  

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