Any experience with copyright should give you some of this knowledge – knowledge of the storyteller, the musician, the object maker, the cryptographer. In a saturated world the media would be eager to tell us who we are if we let that, get confident insight, authorization of the media, both a necessity and a gift.
What do you learn from being a media actor and not just a media consumer? What do you know when you play a song, not just listen to it?
I don’t think the answer can be shortened to bullet points. For me, two ideas stand out.
One is: Define yourself if you get the chance – if you don’t, someone else will be happy to do it for you.
The other is: empathy.
IV. Anyone who’s ever played the part
On stage that night in 2006, Lou Reed certainly looked hated there. Over the years that followed, I kept the show in my memory under both “iconic moments of despair” and the “high mark of tech arrogance”. Today I am a lot less sure, and much slower in triggering convictions.
Yes, the audience sat there and basically said: We’re rich and we’re building the future, and we’re so cool that we can turn icons like Lou Reed into our private entertainment – and then don’t even notice him!
And Reed? He responded with a raised middle finger: “I’m here to serve,” he rambled frantically during a song break. “That was the moment I lived all my life. I was at St. Mark’s Place and I think, one day there will be cyberspace and the Internet… ”
All that happened. And has yet to shape the meeting as “philistine businessman versus ticket artist” is not merely reducing; I don’t think it’s correct.
Remember: The Velvet Underground is famous for being unable to get the world to notice them. Their live recordings, just like their lover Live 1969 album, has always heard lonely. There could be three people clapping. The band’s albums sold miserably, only to a handful of fans – however, as Brian Eno famously quips, “each of them started a band.”
I would not assume that Reed and his band friends are indifferent to all this indifference. But it doesn’t stop them from writing, or playing, or growing.
I’ve been thinking about these bizarre clashes of cultures on Web 2.0 for years, especially after the news of Reed’s death last year. What was he really thinking that night? Annoying Reed with questions about it is no longer an option. So I traced out Jonathan Miller, who was then CEO of AOL and who had arranged the entire event, and asked him.
Miller and Reed met when Reed appeared in an AOL video shoot in 2002, and they studied with the same tai chi. “We are trying to have a greater presence in the West Bank,” recalled Miller. “We are the main sponsors of the conference and that gave us the right to assign a musical performance for the night. I think, we must have a little attitude. Lou is the embodiment of doing things your own way ”.
So Lou Reed will lend AOL a bit of his advantage. It might be difficult! It’s annoying is already is he really?
“We went to dinner after that,” said Miller. “He’s fine with it. He said, “It wasn’t the first time I had to do it.”
Neither Miller nor convention host John Battelle remembers (or will say) how much Reed was paid for the show. Apparently, to a certain extent, the performance is a simple transaction: Musicians also have bills to pay, and today they are in more difficult than ever – thanks in part to the disruption of tech industry. If Lou Reed can make a few bucks by renting out his attitude, who are we to stoned?