San Francisco producer-engineer Mikael Eldridge, a.k.a. Count, has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry: Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, New Order, No Doubt. Locally, he's collaborated with Blackalicious, Lyrics Born, and DJ Shadow. And Count, who happens to be staring down the prospect of getting evicted from his home and studio in Bernal Heights, has a message for us: If we care at all about the future of music, writing, the arts in general -- we have to stop thinking it should all be made available to us for free.
"The people that create the things we all love and depend on are struggling more than ever," says the producer earnestly in the Indiegogo campaign video for his new documentary Unsound. "What is the future for creators if their work is literally worth nothing? Is all music going to be free? What about books, movies, news? What happens to writers and journalists when they are no longer paid to do important research?"
The documentary, which Count took two years off from working to create, follows five musicians -- cellist Zoe Keating, Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven's David Lowery, Jurassic 5, Tycho, and singer-songwriter Rhett Miller -- as they grapple with making music in "the age of free." Among others, it includes interviews with Diplo, Noam Chomsky, Mark Mothersbaugh, Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz, and Pandora founder Tim Westergren, which, incidentally, sounds like a great guest list for a dinner party. The producer needs to raise about $35,000 to finish editing the documentary and submit it to film festivals.
"It's sad when your favorite band has to give up and get day jobs because they don't make money doing music. It's downright scary when a journalist can't research a news issue because there's no money in it," he told the Chronicle this morning. Suffice it to say, he's speaking our language.