So, The Pirate Bay have captured people’s imaginations recently with their high profile back-talking against the blundering oafs of the US Copyright lobby, and they certainly have the cool factor with them, but there comes a point when indiscriminant file sharing is counter productive for all of us.
Users of the torrenting scene popularly consider themselves glamourous digital buccaneers who are getting one over on The Man with their superior tech skills, because the top heavy Music Industry dinosaur has sucked us all dry for so long…and they make so much money they can afford it. Right?
Well, there may be an engrained business structure here which is certainly not entirely devised for the best interests of the artists, but that’s not the issue that I find today. Yes, I’m looking at you torrents.ru! and you laffi, varek2, and don’t think I can’t see you at the back, “banana ninja“!
What I find today is that almost all of my own recordings are available, ready ripped, with artwork nicely scanned, ready for download – audio in lossless FLAC no less via a several web forums . Not only my stuff, but many of my colleagues in the underground Ambient/Electronic scene too, Alio Die, Vidna Obmana, Hybryds etc. All of us release our music either on small independent labels, or on our own cottage industry imprints. Pretty much directly to the listener, with non-existent or extremely small chances of even recovering our production costs through sales. We do this because we love what we do, it is an expression of our creativity, our lives, and indeed our souls.Â
Value is a very difficult concept to convey to someone who has not had a direct experience of it in their own lives. Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” experiment may be an inspired idea which is relevant here. The band made downloads of their album available, with the price at the buyers discretion; from nothing to whatever you considered it worth. The result in their case was that most people elected to pay a reasonable price, thus validating all of us as fundamentally honest and understanding of the value and cost of Radiohead’s independence.
The ripping and scanning of someone elses artwork, without even giving them notice or the opportunity to voice an opinion is abusive in the extreme. I am of the opinion that the people who do this, and the people who download the results are music fans, people who are actually enthusiastic about the music and want to share it, but they are also people (like pretty much everyone) who’ll snatch a freebie if they think no one is watching.
Arguments that the recordings are no longer available to buy or impossible to find in certain countries no longer hold any water. If someone really wanted to listen to my audio work, but was so poor they couldn’t possibly pay – if they emailed me, I’d probably send them a CDr myself! But making digital copies available to anyone regardless, devalues my output and that of the other artists whose work I discovered has been torrented.
I’ll probably return to this topic……