Many programmers view piracy as some inevitable righteous result of the coming of the information age.
We justify the theft of music (in particular in this case) in several ways:
- Artists benefit because the number of fans increase which sells more tickets and merchandise at shows
- Some ASCAP RIAA asshat wants to be paid for ridiculous things
- The evil record companies need to get with the times and embrace file sharing
For the record, I agree with #3, used to think #1 was the case, and I'm refusing to do business with anyone
I know is a member of
ASCAP. I'm very consciously changing my view on #1
after hearing the artists' point of view.
As it turns out, maybe our righteous crusade is not all we'd like to think.
Quoth independent artist Ben Weasel
So the world will always have its Billy Joel's, along with its hot shot Internet sensations of the moment.
But what I want to know, again, is who's going to be paying for the recording of all this free music
dreamed up by small-timers (which description, if you're not aware, covers most of us)?
And if the answer is "nobody," that means that music made by people who are even a little bit
outside the mainstream, off the beaten path, or just plain fucking weird, is going to
disappear (save, of course, for those with disposable cash - the hobbyists and the rich kids -
but those people tend to make music that people can't even be bothered to download for free).
Long term, this isn't going to work out well for music fans. I'm not scolding. I'm not trying to stuff
the genie back in the bottle. I just want the emperor's distinct lack of clothing noted: the alleged death
of the music industry is in actuality the death of interesting music.
I said the same thing six years ago when I first wrote about this stuff.
And what's happened since? Music has become more boring than ever, that's what.
Even punk rock has become more mind-numbingly mediocre than I ever remember it being before,
and I came of age when bands like Youth Of Today and Corrosion of Conformity were hot shit
with the dimbulb set.
I haven't seen so many bands playing it safe and copying what's popular since the skulls and
anarchy-symbol craze of 1984. If I hear another band aping the Dillinger Four and shouting
their Cookie Monster vocals at me through their hobo beards I may begin to sob.
At the time I was first bemoaning the effect file-sharing was bound to have on the best music,
I was informed (rather condescendingly, as I recall) that all those fans who were illegally
downloading my music were going to be paying me back in spades via sales of show tickets and merchandise.
And while my showing in that department is dandy at the moment, it certainly hasn't picked up any in
the ensuing six years. In fact, merchandise sales are almost exactly the same. Granted, these days
that's cause to break out the bubbly and perch a lampshade on the old noggin, but I can't help but
notice that this whole file sharing thing hasn't quite worked out as advertised - not just for me,
but for any other working musicians I know either.
Now maybe that's all a big, fat coincidence,
but it's kind of hard to escape the conclusion that what this is, was, and always will be about
is people getting something for nothing. It's not about crazed rock fandom.
It's about as gobbling
up as much free stuff as you can with little regard for what it is or might be, and virtually no
patience at all when it comes to evaluating the goods because, after all, if it's free, what can
it really be worth? And the reason people are doing it isn't because any sort of revolution has occurred;
it's not a consequence of us poor artists having been unshackled from the chains of the evil
record labels and their PR teams and A&R men and distributors and lawyers and accountants.
It's happening because people can steal music easily and without any real risk of getting caught.
That's the way the music business is these days and while I'm not happy about it I'm well aware
there's no point in fighting it. I refuse to allow people to dress it up as something noble when
it's nothing more than simple greed and theft, but don't get the idea that I'm raging against the
dying of the light; I assure you that at this stage the cupboard has been rendered so bare that
record royalties are more or less a moot point.
I'd be happy to give away future albums, settling
for crossing my fingers and praying for the odd licensing deal, if only I could figure out how to
pay for the damned recordings!
(bolding and paragraph additions (for readability) by yours truly)
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