“Internet Pirates Will Always Win.”
I should preface what you are about to read with the following: Although my tone is rather defeatist, I’m optimistic about making my commercial releases available on a number of digital streaming services; Spotify, Last.fm, eMusic, Zune, Rhapsody, etc., to name a few.
“Internet Pirates Will Always Win.” I’m slowly coming to the same unfortunate conclusion (although I’m slowly accepting the inevitable and re-evaluating my thoughts on the matter). Shoveling shit against the tide is a fruitless endeavor. I write music; I enjoy writing music; I have no particular profit motive when writing; I even enjoy giving it away for free, but I prefer to be the person who decides what music is freely distributed, and when it becomes available. I have been pretty outspoken against piracy, the following examples might shed some light on why – but that’s about to change (See below).
In 2010 I released “Misfire” on Hands, and prior to the official release date, I was performing at Maschinenfest in Germany to promote the album – before my plane even arrived back in the states, before the official release date of the album, before I even performed, the Russian torrent sites were already seeding my new album. Apparently, someone bought the album on the first day of the festival, ripped it, uploaded and seeded it. Some years back, I was performing a show in the states, I was selling CDs and records, and someone approached the merch booth and asked how much the CDs were, I replied “10 dollars”. The response, “Eh, I’ll just download it”. Just a few examples of the direct impact piracy has had on me. It hasn’t been pleasant.
Some say, “They weren’t going to buy it anyway, so you aren’t losing a sale”, I might even agree. But when I think of the investment in physical media and labor, I can see how without some degree of financial compensation, some degree of financial recuperation, what incentive is there for a label to take interest in releasing a quality product? Art, design, mastering, manufacturing, promotion, marketing? Where does the money come from for these things if not from record and merchandise sales? Never mind the artist, many who simply do this out of a labor of love with no expectation of financial gain (myself included), but I’m sure they all want to put out the very best product they can – Artwork and design that is interesting to look at and represents the artist; Mastering that brings the sound to the highest level of enjoyment; Manufacturing that produces a quality product; and Promotion and Marketing that brings live shows and performances. This can become quite costly; this is a financial investment on behalf of the label.
Perhaps labels are dying, or maybe there’s just a power shift – which might explain the surge of DRM and rights management. The old guard is losing its grip, and the new models are taking over. The money has simply shifted from big record labels to big streaming services. It seems artists are still compensated poorly (but plenty of money is being made).
Some say, “Information should be free, we’re helping promote musicians!”, yet I’ve never seen a pirate torrent a release from Darkstep.org – specifically dedicated to promoting musicians (perhaps there’s something I can learn from this?). They’re not saints, they’re not digital Robin Hoods, they’re cashing in on banner advertising from the traffic on their torrent sites. Again, artists aren’t compensated at all (but plenty of money is being made).
We can alleviate this by two means, either restrict the activity of pirates, or take control over the distribution (by providing a better service, although it’s hard to compete with “free”). The first is never going to happen, so the second option only makes sense.
The industry itself is changing, new models are being created fairly often – crowd sourcing, donations, partial free downloads, streaming services – taking advantage of one or all of these new models seems to be ideal. Rather than become a jaded cynical holdout, fighting the tide of new technology, I’ve decided to follow suit. Over the next few months, I’ll be making my commercial releases available on a number of digital streaming services; Spotify, Last.fm, eMusic, Zune, Rhapsody, etc., to name a few. At least this way, I can almost guarantee high quality music rather than triple ripped compressed 64kbps mp3s with mismatched ID3 tags and no artwork. Surely, ease of access, and higher quality, will result in a better experience for fans of the music. Be patient, I’ll get it all up there over time.
Apologies for the long-winded rant, after reading this article, I really got to thinking about this (I’ve been having an internal mental dialog about piracy for years now, the cynical jaded side of my brain seems to have won more often than not, it’s time for that to change).
A quote from the article sums it up succinctly:
Thanks for reading! I’d like to hear your thoughts! I’ll stop typing now and get back to making noise.