Lots of people reposting this. A good read, if nothing else, on a slow news day. From Greg’s tumblr:
A Question From Facebook About File Sharing…& An Ensuing Ramble
Hi Greg, I’m a business student in Belfast and for my ethics module I’m writing a paper on online file sharing and it’s effect on the music industry. I was wondering what your views on the subject are, how it’s affected you and if you’ve done anything to try and counter the situation or lessen its effect on Dillinger. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, and I can’t wait to see you here this summer! Thanks.
I don’t see file sharing as an evil…it’s silly to say that it has any intrinsic properties of good and evil at all anyway. It’s just a new form of technology that evolved outside of what the record industry and intellectual property law structure was prepared for at the time. That having been said…I think it’s necessary to swim with the tide and not against it. I think it’s time to accept and acknowledge that the CD is a dead format. Maybe not dead in the way of the 8 track but dead in the way vinyl is. A CD now, should be thought of as a collector’s item, or a preferred way of listening if that is the individual’s preference, in which case he is already in the minority as most music is listened to via the MP3 format. A CD certainly sounds better than an MP3, just as a vinyl does, but it just lacks the infinitely superior convenience of the digital format. As internet gets faster and hard drives get bigger, even 320 MP3s(which I am totally fine with for 90% of my listening) will be replaced by larger more sonically accurate files like WAVs or FLAC, so eventually a CD will hold no sonic vantage point at all, and will simply be a relic that we once used to transfer digital files. A relic that is no longer NEEDED, but like I said, may be “cool to have” in the way vinyl is. I buy vinyls and limited versions of albums that I really like or really mean something to me…and stick to MP3 for the rest. Most people who listen to pop music only listen to singles anyway, and for that point most pop artists only really make singles anyway…the rest of the album is padding around the singles. Chances are if I hear some one hit wonder pop song I don’t really want or need the album. So the digital format is simply far more suited for the majority of peoples’ tastes. A killer full album is rare, and I think people know that.
The issue obviously isn’t the technology but the way in which it’s completely blindsided the world of intellectual property and the commerce/profit/royalty structure that the industry previously had in place, which, while usually grossly unfair to the artist and needing to change anyway, at least still upheld the concept that songs possessed a monetary value. It’s tricky to get into trying to “police” the internet because the glory of the internet is that it really isn’t policed at all. The torrent sites and things like that can claim that they really have no legal responsibility for the things that are being torrented on them, in the way that Yahoo or Google can say that they aren’t responsible for what is being emailed back and forth from people with Yahoo or Google email accounts, or if I can read the recipe for meth by using one of their search engines.
All of that being said, the choice of whether to release music for free, should be the artist’s, just as if I ran a coffee shop and wanted to give away free coffee samples or have a free coffee day that should be my choice, not the choice of the consumer. At no point would it be acceptable for the consumer to just come in and take the coffee…but that is exactly what would happen to the seller of any good if there were no laws or means of or threat of enforcement of those laws. I think that a lot of people would have a natural conscience enough to just feel bad about stealing the coffee/groceries/auto parts/whatever is being sold…and would pay anyway. However, like anything, once you do something once with no consequence, you do it again, and then again, and then eventually feel nothing. Even harder is trying to get people to pay who have grown up NEVER paying(many kids now). As “uncool” as it sounds though…something needs to happen. Artists would not be able to survive, and the whole argument of “well they can still tour and sell merch” ONLY holds up at all because people have to BUY tickets and merch! If you could just walk into our show for free and then also just walk away from our merch table and grab a shirt for free….we would just be done. People only spend around twenty percent of what they spent ten years ago on music…so I’m sure you can imagine that it has cut into our financial means more than substantially, as well as music stores, companies, producers, etc. I’ve watched someone like Steve Evetts(DEP producer…among many other bands) for example…absolutely one of the best at his craft…and I’ve seen how he has had to accept less and less pay for doing the same amount of work. This is someone who doesn’t have the ability to go on tour and sell merch. The amount of revenue a record company/band expects to generate or does generate is the only indicator of how much he receives. People don’t think of that when they use the whole “well a band can still tour” argument. Any argument is just an argument to appease a guilty conscience and try to pretend that it isn’t wrong…because we all still just wanna be able to get things for free.
Having said all of that, I think the corner is about to turn. You can get movies just as easily as albums, and I think now that the movie industry is about to be hugely impacted by file sharing, and eventually the book/written industry as wel(since the advent of the kindle and people reading books on their Ipads), people are having a major “oh shit” moment. I think that what, realistically, needs to happen, is a combination of things.
First off, bands and record companies need to let go of the idea of the CD as the product. The CD is not the product, it’s a means to distribute the product, and that means, like I was saying before, needs to be accepted as being outdated, and treated as a collector’s item. Bands and record companies need to embrace the idea of most of the quantity of their sales coming from digital, and then have a selection of ALL limited other versions. Limited CD, more limited digipack that comes with cooler shit, even more limited vinyl, and then an extremely limited box set or something rad that is just for the real blood and guts fans, and then just random limited album related things that are cool for the band to do and cool for the fans to have. It strengthens the bond between band and fans and just feels so much better to do anyway.
Second, and this is already happening and will continue to increase, internet service providers need to monitor heavy users and see if there is illegal content being downloaded at large volumes like artist discographies and so forth. If they do see that is happening, they should send a warning letter and then on the second time suspend service for a period of time.
The intellectual property laws need to change so that torrent sites aren’t under the same bracket as email providers. Sending one message or a song to one other person or some of your friends is clearly different than hosting an album or movie for an infinite number of people to download. Right now on BTJunkie the Option Paralysis album is being downloaded/leeched by 9 people. At ten bucks an album, that’s ninety bucks. An hour from now it will be 10 new people. Two hours from now, 7 new people….and so on. Our album’s been out for a year. A year ago the number of people downloading it was far more. That revenue loss doesn’t just affect us, but the entire industry, and we are nothing compared to larger bands as far as total revenue, but the percentage of loss hits bands of our size much harder than it does a Walmart band. A torrent site should be held accountable for illegal trading of copywritten material and cease and desist or immediate shut down orders should be sent to those found to be major violation.
Record companies need to take precaution and hire private companies that do nothing but kill mediafire links and torrents. Those companies DO exist and have recently worked records like the Sleigh Bells record and the last Deftones’ last album and those records were nearly impossible to find online in the first couple of months.
Most importantly, bands need to do good shit! Be a real band, give a shit about what you are doing, have high standards and quality control and have pride in releasing good material in quality formats.
This is a giant conversation that is only gonna get more interesting as technology continues to transform the industry. Most people will have Iphones. Most people will use their Iphones as Ipods. Most people if they want a song they hear, will use an app to identify the artist, and immediately download it to their Itunes for 99 cents or whatever. Everything is moving at light speed now and everyone needs to catch up to the times or face extinction, and that is the cold reality but I embrace it…there just needs to be protection of the creator/inventor/artist or else there will be no content for people to enjoy. File sharing is amazing because it eliminates the need for a middle man distributor like a record company and allows instant and easy transfer from artist to listener. Without protection though, it doesn’t just cut out the middle man, it cuts out the artist.
This was a bit of a ramble but it’s a subject near and dear to my heart as it is how me and most of my friends make the meager living that we do. People need to stop with the whole misinterpretation of “giving shit away for free is punk as fuck” attitude. Yeah…”giving” it away IS punk as fuck. It’s only giving when it’s your choice to give it, though. TAKING shit from someone who didn’t want you to have it for free…that is the opposite of punk and the opposite of supporting any kind of scene or movement that you claim to. Okay okay…enough rambling. We’re an hour away from Colorado Springs and Jeff is diming some crust punk and trying to mosh me. Gotta go.