Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my opinions about illegally downloading a band’s music. If you want to try a track out, there are probably streaming services that you can check out and, most likely, the band will post samples of their songs on their website. There isn’t really a great argument for stealing a band’s work – as frustrating as it can be when a record isn’t easily available, there are usually legal ways to get a cd or pay for an album.
For the most part, I feel that serial downloaders just grab music so that they can say that they have it – they arguably have no intention of ever listening to the stuff they’ve got on their hard drive, but they have boaster’s rights on having 20,000 songs on several drives.
Lead singer of Canadian metal band The Agonist, Alissa White-Gluz, has a very direct and honest take on the effect that stealing an artist’s music has on them over in an interview carried at Blabbermouth.net, ahead of the summer release of the band’s next album, “Prisoners”.
Bands at The Agonist’s level do not have the support of CD sales to help support touring costs any more and can’t rely on selling a quarter of the records which they might have done before the advent of P2P and file-sharing decimated the careers of ordinary working musicians – that side of things has gone almost completely by the wayside. This would be fine if iTunes/Amazon and stores of that ilk had stepped in to fill the gap left by physical retail locations and if consumers bought music rather than nicked it, but we know that there’s an entire generation of kids who don’t have an issue with theft if it means that they can listen to songs and music on a whim.
As to who pays for those songs to be recorded, who funds artwork, mastering, the cost of musical instruments, rehearsal space hire, pays rent or buys food – none of that stuff seems to occur to a kid searching a torrent site and seeding and reseeding the latest album by a band or artist which they profess to love.
I wonder if it’s a problem of perception – a kid sees Katy Perry or Will.I.Am living the life of tabloid-created pop celebrity and somehow conflates that exaggerated single example into a deluded narrative where every musician lives large. A single download of their favourite band’s album is justified because somebody’s buying the record, surely and we don’t live in a world where the vast majority of people who would have bought music no longer do so?
This kind of logic-skipping justification is easy to imagine and, I feel, one factor in why this problem exists – it’s a crime where the after-effect isn’t seen by the perpetrator because it happens at a remove and anonymously, for the most part.
None of which is part of my clarion call to get you to stop doing what you might be doing and to save the recorded music industry. I think that the best effect of making music more digitally available should be to remove the barrier between fan and artist – a punky, DIY approach to distribution of music rather than a model which hides bands behind artificial barriers and doesn’t allow artists to directly communicate with the people who love their work. If you can buy from the band’s website and giving them more money than they were ever getting under the model of CD buying, shouldn’t that be a goal?
Most people don’t have a lot of cash at the moment but that isn’t an excuse to steal from people who’ve worked hard at their art and deserve some recompense. Not an imagined millionaire’s lifestyle, but a decent amount of money for doing their job.