Starfishes and Fall Out Boy

One of my favorite books in the entire world is The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman. Briefly, the book talks about the difference between the organizations with top-down leadership, i.e., hierarchies dependent upon certain roles and leaders (spiders), versus equal-responsibility organizations, which derive their power from the group as a whole, not any specific group member or “leader” (starfishes!) Spiders, when you cut off their heads, die. (Please, though, people, just take them outside; they mean you no harm!) Starfishes, though, if you cut off their legs, regenerate new ones– and the old legs regenerate as new starfish!!!!!!! I love starfishes, and I love starfish organizations. Examples of starfishes they give include: Burning Man; 12-Step groups; Craigslist; Wikipedia; and filesharing software.

Filesharing. Yeah.

I buy my music, even if I am buying digital copies. I do this for two reasons: 1) it is in integrity with my belief system; 2) sound quality guaranteed. (Though, I guess, if you didn’t pay anything for it, what harm is there in searching around for a better– free– copy?) However, I do stream video and music from time-to-time. The difference to me is the difference between stealing a CD (okay, look, your advertising worked RIAA– on one person!) and listening to the radio. In one case, I own the product. In the other, I am listening to/watching it, but it belongs to someone else. I recognize that the way ppl make money off of radio and television is with commercials, and I am not watching commercials, and therefore, no one profits. (OR DO THEY?! More anon.)

Filesharing, though. I did it in the early days, before you could actually legally purchase music online. It was awesome!!! You could get nearly any song you could think of, instantly(ish), and you didn’t have to go out and buy a CD, and you could get things that weren’t even available on CD, etc. And, yeah, you could get new music (i.e., stuff you could find in the store, very easily) through filesharing. Just like now.

The book makes the point that when the courts cut off Napster, it didn’t “solve” the problem at all, because filesharing is starfishy. It isn’t about Napster. I know I didn’t care if I had a brand-name ripped copy of “It’s My Life” by Talk Talk; I just wanted the song. It is about people wanting the music and having the technology to get it. I don’t think most people are invested in the record company getting money– I know I am not. I care about the artists getting compensated fairly for their work, but I think that most of the major ones are doing just fine. I don’t know how other people feel about that. The real issue is this: the way people want to get their music is more important in the end than how the record companies want them to get it.

The recording industry model is still based around the idea that you have to go into the store and buy a thing, even if the store is online and the thing is an mp3 (or 4). The model that people, especially of my generation and beyond, want to follow is: free music, instantly delivered. And they can get this, from the starfish of filesharing. And cutting off individual sites isn’t going to stem the tide of pirated music.

All of this, by the way, is what I learned from the book, paraphrased by me. Including this bit: that means that the recording companies, if they want to be compensated, need to figure out a way to either exploit the model (and I don’t mean by subscription services or charging meager amounts or selling advertising space), or, they need to find a new way to make money. Like the LiveNation model, wherein all of the artist’s revenue is moving through the same source, so that it doesn’t matter if no one pays for the music, because they are paying for the concert (and the surcharges!) and the tee-shirt and the concert booklet and the oh, man, I can’t think of a fifth thing. Something else! And what ends up happening is that the free downloads lead to more people listening to the music, more exposure, more access for more people.

Oh, hey, everyone, I went to see Fall Out Boy last night! For the second time in six months! I didn’t pay for the first album of theirs that I owned. Actually, I did pay. I think I paid $0.03 per song, on a Russian pirated music website (that was not how they sold themselves, by the way.) Live 105 played “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” one day as I was driving to visit my best friend (now fiancee!) I was like, “This is crazy! I would like to hear more of this ‘Fall Out Boy.'” So instead of taking a chance on buying their album full-price, I downloaded it from Russians. (In Soviet Russia, music downloads you!) I liked it. I actually need to re-purchase From Under the Cork Tree (warning: audio), because I want a better copy of it.

Here’s how much money I have since spent on Fall Out Boy:
three concert tickets: $120 (and I missed the damn concert because I went to Chicago that weekend!); $20.00; $52.45
one album, full price: $9.99 (my friend, Karla, bought me another that cost the same amount
one tee-shirt: $25.00

Now, I am not saying I wouldn’t have discovered them and loved them had I not gotten their first album for mere cents, because we do not live in that alternate universe. What I am saying is, that I might not have spent $9.99 originally, but I did end up personally spending hundreds of dollars, so far, on them.

See? It’s all about evolving!

My review of FOB’s Believers Never Die II Tour, San Jose Edition
I missed Hey Monday and Cobra Starship (damn it! I wanted to hear “I Kissed a Guy”!), but I got there in time to see the third (!) opening act, Metro Station (warning: audio). Of whom I will say, the lead singer is very very preetty, but I fear for his future, as he has the neck tattoos really bad, and I don’t think Metro Station is long for this world. (OMG! In doing the research for this post, I found out that this boy is Trace Cyrus, i.e., Miley Cyrus’ half-brother and Billy Ray Cyrus’ son!! Also the other singer/guitarist was in an episode of Arrested Development. The drummer and the keyboardist were the only ones who could be said to be committed to playing music. Neither singer/guitarist did much guitaring. The extremely gorgeous, tiny, tattooed singer was very energetic! That was nice. He kept yelling, “Make some fucking noise, Califuckingfornia!” You, sir, should make some effing noise; I suggest you start by PLAYING YOUR GUITAR!

Fourth opening act was the delightful All Time Low! (warning: audio as hell– damn you, MySpace!) I recognized their music from Pandora (warning: again with the audio), and I very much enjoy them. Everyone played their instruments! The drummer, in particular, turned it out. They had him in the middle of the stage, where he belonged. It was an exciting set. Even without knowing the songs, I got really into them. Bonus points for the out queer guitarist, Jack Barakat, wearing a bra someone had thrown onstage and for the lead singer, Alex Gaskarth, calling out the homophobes in the audience.

Fall Out Boy. (Ooh, interesting side note: while the roadies were reconfiguring the stage, the speakers were blasting awesome awesome music, including “Apple Bottom Jeans” by T-Pain, which holds a special place in my heart, as my fiancee and I danced with my two little nieces to it at my brother’s wedding reception.) Ahem. Fall Out Boy. This was a semi-small venue, and I was on the floor, hanging out behind some tall guys with good boundaries. I was pretty close, but not the kind of close where you get to touch Pete Wentz during the final song. They had a bit of a dramatic stage show going on, with some video display, etc. Andrew Hurley’s drum kit was on a raised platform. (Which, good choice– I could watch that guy drum all frickin’ day!) So, there was a bit of business on the screens to distract us, and then, out of nowhere! Hurley is at the drum kit, and he is all, POUND POUND pound pound pound pound POUND POUND pound pound pound pound! And the strobe lights and the rest of the band comes out and they are dressed like business men who have just been beaten up. (I didn’t quite understand the conceptual aspects of the stage show.) “Disloyal Order of the Water Buffaloes” en media res.

Actually, there was a bit of political stuff in the beginning that I quite appreciated, rallying the crowd to do something about the deregulation of the financial industry (paraphrasing, natch). Then, at some point, there was a little break for them to change and get made up all pretty. Also, what hair products does Pete Wentz use? Where can I find them? Because I want my hair to stick straight up when I run my fingers through it, please. Anyway, a bit of video-related business, while Hurley got undressed so that he could play without getting heat-stroke. Have I already mentioned what a fucking fabulous drummer that man is?

Here are some of the songs that they rocked, totally out of order, and straight up from my memory:
“Disloyal Order of the Water Buffaloes”
“Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On a Bad Bet” (YAY!)
“This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race”
“A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me”

Wait, less of this?!

Wait, less of this?!

“I Don’t Care”
“Dead On Arrival”
“Sugar, We’re Going Down” (I karaoked this song at Great America once. Apparently, “A loaded God complex/ cock it and pull it”)
“She’s My Winona”
“Beat It”

“What a Catch, Donnie” (featuring video of hot boys from other bands; I know that wasn’t the point, but RAWR! Also, William Beckett was naked?)

I like taking baths! What?

I like taking baths! What?

“Tiffany Blews”
“Thnks fr th Mmrs” (one of my favorites!)
“(Coffee’s for Closers)”
“Dance Dance”

Joe Trohman is completely awesome. I was hoping he’d be doing the guitar solo on “Beat It,” but, again, they cut the song short! Patrick Stump is pretty darling, and I like that he doesn’t seem like a lead singer, like, at all; he just sings songs and plays guitar. Nice work! Pete Wentz is lovely. I have never understood why people dislike him. Or, rather, I suspect that people dislike him because his genderfucking makes them uncomfortable. Yeah, he is cocky (and cock-y), but if he didn’t lick other boys’ guitar necks (not a euphemism) and wear eyeliner and write songs about having feelings, I think people would just be like, oh, rock stars! Also, he is v. pretty, to me! And Andy Hurley is my role model, as you’ve probably gathered. I mean, seriously, people. He’s all, thump thump thump thump, you know?

I stayed up way past my bedtime, and then I stopped at In-N-Out Burger, where you can get a cheeseburger, fries, and the best strawberry milkshake in fast-food-dom for $5.81. ++!



  1. […] love open-source software, as I think that it employs Starfish organizing to its fullest. Basically, it is user-driven and collaborative rather than top-down and […]

  2. […] } I am a member of several non-library organizations. (Shocking, I know, that I have a life outside of work!) And I do service in a number of those orgs. This past weekend, I went to a convention for one of […]

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