Milton Friedman

Thanks to my friend Joe Fulwiler for forwarding this video of Milton Friedman. I remember seeing him speak at Stanford’s Kresge Hall 10 years ago and was impressed by his deep convictions on vast global issues. As an economics major, it was a real treat to see him live and well worth the several hours in line. In the video Milton Friedman comes across as a genuine, engaging, and utterly rational man. Wish I could say the same for Phil Donahue. Not to hate on Phil, but watching him ask Milton questions is like me trying to lay up on Manute Bol.

The video touches upon a somewhat opposing duality that I’ve been reflecting about lately — how does one serve their self-interest while contributing to the greater good in a real tangible way? Semantics aside, what’s the best way to serve yourself and others at the same time? Not “self-interest” in an evil, greased up maniac Gordon Gecko type of greed, but rather an objectivist approach to the concept like Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Our behavior is largely dictated by economic incentive so it makes sense to think of what is surely a common denominator in all of us, namely, the process of efficiently allocating scarce resources. The hope is to serve ourselves well and in surplus in order to have a greater chance of serving others.

Harmony Festival and the Future of Music

Last weekend I went to the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, CA, and it was a blast. Fun in the sun, soaking in cool tunes, great food, colorful friendly people, and lots of fooling around and laughter. Thanks so much to Claire and Darin for making it happen for us. I wish we had the chance to hang out on Sunday, but we will make up for it. I was impressed by how well the festival was run given how many people and vendors in attendance. It was a high quality production so I wasn’t surprised when I learned it was their 30th anniversary.

They’ve had some practice in making it a well oiled machine. Makes me happy to think about how far Topspin can go one day as we’re now approaching our one-year anniversary celebration in Venice, CA.

I was largely at the Harmony Festival because Giveback is powering an album download to raise money for the World Family, an Ethiopian health services center, to construct an irrigation tunnel to better sustain one of the more remote villages. More info on the Water of Life campaign is here.

I must say I love FreQ Nasty‘s new Super Mario Remix with Heavy Weight Dub Champion’s Snared on the Water of Life album. I’m listening to it on our office sound system, and if I turned up the bass it would disintegrate the cinder-block walls. If we needed music to serve as an interstellar weapon, I nominate this track turned up to 11.

Damian Marley and David Starfire‘s tracks rocked me out as well. They will be on my iPhone soon. I would post a link to the music but don’t want to defeat the purpose of the artists who gave their music for this great cause. You can get the tunes here.

One thing that really resonated with me was FreQ Nasty’s reason why this campaign is exciting from a macro perspective. I excerpted it from the Water of Life campaign site:

The idea that artists can use their music and art to help create positive change in the world is one that I feel really strongly about right now. At this point in time music is selling less than it ever has, yet remains a powerful cultural force and reaches a wider and more diverse spectrum of people than it ever has. As the means of digital distribution are essentially free, and the monetary worth of any given track moves toward zero, the idea of bringing music’s powerful cultural force to bear on the lives of real peoples to help them in a tangible way is little short of a miracle. To help the people of Gara Dima in Ethiopia by creating music in a studio in California brings down barriers for the artist, the fans, and the community itself, benefiting us all.

FreQ’s point is particularly salient in my pursuit of Topspin‘s mission to help artists build their businesses. Particularly, in a world of free music with P2P, what other ways are there to manifest value in art? I think the point is that we shouldn’t take the current devaluation of music as a given and work to find new methods to move people into action and towards their checkbook or credit card.

Although I’m advising Giveback‘s organizational efforts, as a regular citizen I was motivated to give more than I normally would for the Water of Life album because it was for a good cause, and I wanted the music specifically from some of these artists. My after the fact ROI for giving is large since I’m really digging the music. So much so that I had to blog about it.

As a warrior for the advancement of music and especially in trying to figure out how to generate meaningful revenue for artists, I feel even more inspired and excited to know that the future of how we are all exposed to new music and causes has yet to truly unfold.