Stop stealing our music you little scum – and who says this?
We hear all this moaning ever so often. Those who download music for free are thieves, bastards and criminals who are destroying our scene. Support your artists, support our scene, otherwise you are (put an insulting name here) blah blah blah.
While the above sounds reasonable at first, supporting criminalisation of music downloads has more consequences. Who will benefit the most? Big rights owners. Major labels, corporations and other vultures. Not independent artists for sure. There is plenty of evidence showing, that free download does not mean lost sale.
Not to mention that even if this sale happens, the band gets the money. There is a few corporate mouths to feed before the artist gets to eat.
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Crowds at the gigs and festivals did not get there by coincidence. Or did they? They obviously were passing by and just dropped in to see what is going on. Sometimes a band has more people on a gig that they sold CDs.
Halotan has experience selling music in a shop, where next to “buy” button there is “free download” one. We still sell. Those who want to download do not have to go to some dodgy sites and risk being hacked, malwared, scammed, prosecuted and Satan knows what else.
Do you know, that even in the twentieth century a business of selling ice to households was thriving? It was destroyed by refrigerators. Not a big deal, nobody is crying.
The ice industry had no big money, politicians and smart-ass lawyers behind it (or, rather in its pocket). They could not get a law passed that would criminalise and penalise those buying refrigerators. They could not make refrigerators illegal, but today’s music business can and does make music downloads illegal with no problem. They can and do prosecute.
They made us accept as quite reasonable an idea of putting somebody in debt for the rest of their life or even to imprison individuals for downloading music. Look at this again. Is music about putting people to prison? Or ruin them financialy because they downloaded music? Is it not a complete insanity? Brainwashed by PR machinery of the corpos you nearly believe that this is tough but fair. Our friends from the “independent” scene also helped a lot, repeating the PR hype without thinking. Or at best saying nothing.
The biggest sin and mistake that an independent label or artist can do is to sheepishly follow the majors. How independent you are, if you sing in the choir of those who want your fans criminalised and prosecuted for music? Why nobody has the guts to say that downloading is ok?
Worse again, some of the independent artists seem to follow and talk shit about how badly they are hit by illegal downloads. Hello mister famous, should there were no downloads, you would probably still be in your garage and nobody would have heard about you. The money you make on gigs comes from the fact, that people heard your music and liked you because they downloaded your songs.
Artists are in bad position. They would love to get people to buy, but they can not call the matter as it stands for them, because this would mean attacking their own fans. They do something in between, blaming sales, market conditions, piracy, without pointing their fingers directly at you and admitting, that they consider their fans thieves and assholes.
Independent scene is not about making money. It is good if it comes, but not as a driving force.
Fans deserve good example from those who build our scene and push it forward – sometimes making a couple of bucks in the process.
Start working harder. Invent a way to genreate revenue and keep the show going without criminalising fans. Accept that the world has changed, and will continue to do so with or without you. Great things often are born in the independent scene – why a softer and more common sense attitude towards downloads cannot start here?
It is possible to build thriving businesses based on something free – look at the Open Source community. They are independent scene of software development and make corporations sweat when they try to compete with their free products. Is this not good for the consumer?
Should copyright laws were strictly enforced, independent musicians would sell some more CDs. This would, however, not make them rich or remotely in level with pop stars. Some of them imagine, that they could just sit down, record an album once a year and make good living off album sales.
For 99.99% of bands the scene is too small for this. It can support a limited number of full time musicians.
By standing behind view, that downloading music is criminal you only do very little favour to the independend artists you love. You see – they have almost nothing to loose.
At the same time, you do a huge favor to the faceless corporate rights owners, who need to convince people that what they do is necessary evil.
You support their depersonalised greed and legitimise their actions. You become all those things you were against when you joined independent scene. You become another useful idiot. All this while you personally have a choice – download or buy.
You probably know “The Animal Farm” by G. Orwell. If you do, you certainly can see similarities to the independent scene.
Whenever somebody gets bigger, they start to embrace the very things they used to contest as independents. Look and listen carefully. If it looks like a mainstream, talks like a mainstream and behaves like a mainstream, then it probably is fecken mainstream.