Group: Super Admins
Joined: Dec. 1999
||Posted: Aug. 15 2003, 14:44
Things are certainly not in a particularly good state in the fan community at the moment, or at least this sector of it.
I do feel that there have been some comments which have been negative but serving no particular good. Those have been in the minority though, and a lot of people here do have very good points to make.
Yes, Mike has his family and his music, but he also has his job. I'd say an important part of any job is ensuring that the customers are happy with the work one is doing, whether they're the customers of a big corporate employer or the customers of one's own business - Mike has both, as he's both employed by Warner Records and he does business direct with the public when he sells Music VR.
It's possible to get a long way on a good product and nothing more, but after a time, if the customers feel that the company doesn't care about them, they start to get annoyed - that's what's happening here. If Mike wants it just to be his family and his music, then that's fine, he has a right to - but he also has to realise that he can't expect people to remain interested in his business if he's ignoring the customers. It might seem heartless to talk in business terms, but business it is - Mike's a professional musician and chooses to continue being one.
I'm not sure it does much good to say things like "I don't want Mike to experiment with quarter tones, he should stop now", though - being bossy and demanding isn't what I feel is the right way to go about things...he'll go the way he wants to. However, with this being business, people can vote with their wallets and choose not to buy what he's producing (that seems to have happened with Tubular Bells 2003). It's just like hos a man who wants to open a kebab shop will open a kebab shop - he may discover in time that nobody actually wants to buy kebabs, in which case he has the choice of either selling something else which people do want, moving his business somewhere that people do want kebabs, closing the business down, or finding income elsewhere and making kebabs as a hobby (there's one for Mike to try after he's got bored with the helicopters - I'm sure getting a döner to stay on the skewer would be child's play to someone who's just built a mini jet engine).
The kind of fan community we have here at the moment is a relatively new thing when looked at in terms of Mike's career - he almost certainly didn't expect having to deal with anything like this when he signed his contract with Virgin. I can understand that he doesn't want to come and join in discussions here - I probably wouldn't either if I was in his position. But, he and his record company do have to realise that the internet can be quite an influential place (the noise made by fans surrounding copy protection was enough to reach the ears of The Guardian, and the more that's said on the subject, the more interest it's going to attract - Mike will find it increasingly difficult to dismiss complaints, the more informed journalists become of the situation) and really...all it needs is a few words in the right direction. How about "Sorry to all my fans who have had problems with copy protection. I was sad to hear that some of you have had trouble hearing my work, but we do feel the need to investigate ways of protecting my albums against piracy. For those of you who have been inconvenienced, you can now order a Canadian edition via my website, or you can buy the DVD-A edition in October which will work in most DVD players, though you'll need a DVD-A player to enjoy it to its full effect. I hope you have fun listening to the album."? I think a few words of that nature would have done a lot to calm people down (and if he'd taken a tone like that in The Guardian, he'd have avoided yet more fuss)...
I think similar could have worked with Music VR - I think people would have complained a lot less about it if he'd fully explained the reasoning behind things (like why he had a small team, which in turn explained why it wasn't as slick a product as those from the top software houses...it was never meant to be, and the price did reflect that, but Mike never explained it - it took another of his team members to do that, and that wasn't in the mainstream media...).
There's quite a powerful force out here amongst his fans, and he can either harness it or let it run free...if he lets it run free, it may support him, but it may also go against him. If he harnesses it, things could go in all sorts of interesting directions, and he'll have one less set of people causing trouble for him.