Curt Smith on the (Musical) Value of Sharing

Curt Smith is a musician and a co-founder of Tears for Fears. I got my first record deal when I was 18 years old-next year that will be...

Curt Smith is a musician and a co-founder of Tears for Fears.

I got my first record deal when I was 18 years old-next year that will be about 30 years ago, so I have been doing it for quite a while. The industry when I first started was very much one-sided in the sense that it favored the industry and not the musicians. We would sign deals when we were quite young that were pretty bad across the board: from record deals to publishing deals, even management deals and touring. You just didn't make as high of a percentage as you would now. But of course that has changed over the years, especially in the last few years with the internet and sharing your music with people.

Technology has changed so much that now, people are quite capable of making records themselves. It used to be a very expensive process, but its not anymore. In the past, the industry controlled how your music got out there, so if you didn't have a record deal it would never be on shelves; there was no Amazon, there was no iTunes. There was basically just radio, and the record companies controlled that as well. Now, with the freedom of the internet, people can go and discover your stuff.

The down side is that there is now so much music, some form of filtering tool is required. That's starting to happen more with sites where people vote on music-you can breeze through a site, listen to different genres of music, and see which songs are being appreciated the most. But I think one of the big challenges is finding a good system of filtering so you can far more easily find music you may be interested in.

A bigger challenge, from the perspective of the artist, is how to get yourself seen. How do you stand out from X-million people on MySpace or however many there are now? Some of it you can get through hard work-live work, for example, is far more important than is has been in a long time, because that's something you can't replicate online. So building up a live following holds the value that it used to do, only now the word of mouth will spread more quickly due to the internet.

Artists have always created things with the goal of sharing them with people, and that idea goes way back. If you wrote music, you would go out and perform it on the street corner or you would perform it in a club; you wanted to be heard and share it with people. So I think the primary reason to make art is to share it with people. I don't primarily make music just for me, I want it to be listened to by other people, I want people to take it apart, I want people to delve into it and get the different textures and different meanings of lyrics. That kind of stuff I find fascinating. I like to delve into music or any form of art; then I actually feel like I'm involved in it. The difficulty right now lies with how we monetize that. Without sounding completely cold, unless we find a consistent way of monetizing it, then we can't do it any more. We love the stories of the starving artist, but there is only so long you can starve before you are actually going to have to go out and find a job. Those are the problems we have yet to completely solve.

Story as told to Eric Steuer. Click the play button below to listen to the interview on which this piece is based.

Eric Steuer is the creative director of Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that works to make it easier for creators to share their work with the rest of the world. It also provides tools to make it easier for people to find creative work that's been made available to them-and the rest of the world-to use, share, reuse etc., freely and legally. This is the third in a series of edited and condensed interviews called "We like to share," in which Steuer talked to people who work across a variety of fields who use sharing as an approach to benefit the work that they do.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less