Should I be worried about piracy?

Pirate

I would discourage worrying of any kind as a general principle. Worrying is a fear that something bad might happen — a negative emotional state with no external cause in reality. So on that basis, no — I wouldn’t worry about piracy.

I’d also suggest that piracy is not something that tends to happen on the scale that the mainstream media seems to suggest. Unauthorised duplication goes on, but not piracy. The idea that these two things are the same is one that major record labels tend to be quite fond of, but it bears no resemblance to either external reality, or what words actually mean.

Let me outline what I see as the differences between those two things.

Unauthorised copying is the practice of making duplicates of recorded music, usually for personal and social advantage — and most typically for reasons of convenience.

If my friend has a CD copy of a U2 record that I don’t own (for instance) and I put it in my computer and instruct my iTunes software to import that music, then that’s an unauthorised copy.

If I email a track from that album to a friend of mine, that’s another unauthorised copy. If I burn a CD from my iTunes playlist so I can listen to that album in my car, there’s another unauthorised copy.

If I then put that U2 record into my shared folder in Limewire so that my fellow peers online can download it, that’s unauthorised copying (but only if they actually download it — at present, ‘making available’ is not considered ‘distribution’).

If I scan the artwork, set up a mass CD replication production process, manufacture cheap copies of the CD and then distribute and sell the album for financial gain, then that’s piracy. Which is bad and wrong.

Now, simple economics would suggest that if I was going to invest capital in a mass replication process, then it would be U2 and their like that I would want to be mass replicating. The value of the hit, to the actual pirate, is much greater than the value of the non-hit.

So the short answer to the question about whether you should even give piracy a second thought is: Are you U2?

But that’s a flippant response and the question deserves more serious consideration. When asking ‘Should I be worried about piracy?’ the real underlying question is about whether there is a significant potential loss of income as a result of unauthorised copying. And here we’re talking about what’s generally referred to as the ‘Lost Sale’.

The Lost Sale is the idea that because someone came into possession of a track of yours as an mp3, then that is one less copy that will now be sold, thereby depriving you of your rightful income. From the artist and label perspective, it’s the sense of indignation that “all of these people now have my music – and they didn’t give me any money for it. I worked hard and invested all this money, and they’re just stealing it from me…”

It’s an understandable emotion. But it’s not a helpful approach – for three reasons:

1) Copying, as I’ve mentioned before, just happens online. You can’t legislate against it, prevent it by technical means nor force people to behave in ways that you would like them to. If you’re going to make recorded music, you have to be aware that you live in a world where this is what goes on. Refusing to accept that on principled grounds will only lead to stress and illness, and the unhelpful belief that every music consumer is a criminal.

2) The fluidity with which your music can pass from hand to hand is not an impediment to your success, but a technological advantage that you can leverage to your own ends. The overwhelming cry from the independent musician twenty years ago was ‘How can I just get my music out there?’ Problem solved. Now what are you going to do?

3) There are several phases to music that I characterise as Composition, Production, Distribution, Promotion and Consumption. All of those links in the chain are very important. I would suggest that if a technology is not cutting it for you in one part of the chain, it’s sensible to move it to another part of that same chain. That is to say, if you want mp3s to be the way that you profitably distribute music but the results are unsatisfying because of unauthorised copying, then redeploy mp3s to be the way that you profitably promote your music instead.

Now, of course, this raises more questions than it answers — and of course, things are far more complicated than I’ve laid out here — but as a general principle, it’s worth considering that rather than fret about unauthorised copying and expend time and energy in the fruitless task of preventing people from engaging in it, that time and energy can be better spent elsewhere.

And here are three more things to consider:

1) People who share your music are recommending you to people who respect their taste and opinion;

2) The vast majority of people who have unauthorised copies of your music would not have ordinarily paid for it anyway;

3) Do you really want for people who cannot afford your music to be prevented from ever hearing it?

The single most effective way to stop people from copying your music is to stop making music. If that’s not an option (and why would it be?) then accepting that this is the world in which we live is a good start towards successfully negotiating the new media environment.

90 thoughts on “Should I be worried about piracy?

  1. Kaaris says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the article, and for the positive tone that’s a nice addition to the too often seen rambling over these issues.

    I agree that worrying over piracy is, for the most part, useless, especially if you’re one of the thousands of artists making music on the time available from your day job. You might not get rich but you get the chance to have your music heard, unlike never before (and you pay the rent with something else anyway). I do, however, think that being a musician/artist/sound artist should also be a full time possibility. Obviously there isn’t money to be made for everyone but I’d really like to see others than major label stars making it financially. I’d really like to hear examples about independent breakthroughs, since this is what I feel our new technology should make possible:

    Artist/band A makes music so good that it attracts a following and they monetize it through their website/some other service and make a living out of the music this way. Screw the big labels, the audience has spoken (and donated directly to the musicians)! Can you come up with such examples?

    This is how conversations like these could get further past “there’s other ways of making money than the dinosaur market” or “these bastards just want everything for free, you thieves!”. Actual ideas and real life examples for artists/new market theorists to peruse :).

    Best wishes,
    Kaaris

  2. Dave Howes says:

    A lot of folks seem to be intent on convincing me that 99% of my potential earnings are being stolen by thousands of people all over the world. Was it really better 20 years ago when 99% of my potential earnings were being stolen by 6 men in suits?
    Spread the wealth, that’s what I say :-)

  3. Domi says:

    The modern music world has a lot of problems, piracy being one of them but definitely not the only one. And to be honest I wouldn’t consider it the most worrying, nor the main cause for artists like Ellen not turning the profit they rightly deserve after years of hard work.

    I think the poster called “crazy” is not crazy at all, in that they referenced the real main problem that music has nowadays. This problem, which may also contribute to the causes of “unauthorised copying”, is that today music supply is over-abundant. It just is.

    Producing music is easy.
    I write electronic music with a few friends. The total cost for our equipment specifically bought to make music (since we already have computers for other stuff as well) was… bah… let’s exaggerate: 3000 euros? Split amongst 4 people is 750 each. Plus, you know what? I live in Bristol (UK), two of my friends are in Milan (Italy), and our lead singer is in Amsterdam (Holland). And we manage to do stuff anyway, thanks to software and the internet: technology really empowers people.

    Making GOOD music, now, that’s hard. You have to be really talented.
    However, producing any kind of music has become much easier thanks to technology, so more and more people have the power to do so. The only hard thing that’s left is getting out there, to the distribution channels. Record labels only have a limited number of talent scouts, and anyway they don’t have the capacity to produce every single act out there. So people start publishing independently, on the net. Most of these people do it for free, initially, or sell mp3s at an extremely low price.

    Now, consider the hundreds of thousands of people who do this. What you get is a massive source of music that is released for peanuts. Some of this music is bound to be good. One band in a hundred? One in a thousand? You still get good stuff out there, and sooner or later word of mouth makes these bands known to the general public. Record labels may find some people and get them in, but they wouldn’t be interested in ALL those bands anyway, because they don’t have the resources to produce all of them. The choices made by record labels are motivated by possible return on investment, but with so many good acts it becomes largely arbitrary.

    So the public has a choice: obscure artists who are very good and really cheap or free, or commercial artists who are also good but charge money. At the beginning of this phenomenon, people still paid for the latter, and gladly listened to the former for a change.
    But what’s the next step? People are starting to think “Why should I pay for you, ? That guy over there sounds as good, if not better, and gives me free stuff on the internet”.

    What has happened to music, I think, is similar to what happens when you have large unemployment in a country or an area. People are desperate for work, so they start accepting lower wages; and they get lower, and lower.
    In the music industry, there are too many good acts. Good music is over-abundant.
    This has caused an alternative market to rise, where music has become cheaper and cheaper, even free at times. And it gets into people’s mind, that there is free music out there. So why pay?

    As “crazy” said, music has been devalued.

    I don’t know if there is a solution to piracy, or indeed to “unauthorised copying”, which is more common.
    But what I mean is that even supposing there is a solution, even supposing governments / record labels / authorities clamp on the unauthorised copiers and stop the phenomenon completely, the music industry of today will still have its true problem. Artists will find extremely hard to make a profit anyway.
    It is just not a sane economy. It is an economy with massive “unemployment” because of extremely abundant offer and low demand, and it suffers from it.

    So yeah, I agree, artists shouldn’t be worried about piracy. What they should be worried about is the horde of other artists out there. And I don’t think you can eliminate them.

  4. someonEElse says:

    I posses upwards of 1500 albums on my computer’s hard drive and most of them are not by major label artists. Most, if not all of them, I did not purchase either. Now, as a 15 year old, I can safely say, by no means, could I ever EVER afford all of those album at this point in my life. But, with that considered, free forms of file sharing have opened up my horizons to places unimaginable no more that 10 or 15 years ago that I am beyond grateful for.

    I do not intend to hurt any artist I love–suffering artists=no music. So once I have downloaded an album, if I find an artist makes music worth listening to/being bought, I will go to their concert/buy a t-shirt/both. In most cases, an artist will make more money from selling merchandise directly through themselves on a tour than they will if you purchase it through a vendor etc.

    Just the two cents from a concerned, caring member of this generation who does not mindlessly consume anything the radio will force down my throat.

    I believe this (http://bandcamp.com/) is a business model everyone should check out. Very good intentions, very successful (at this point).

    Happy Listenings,
    -A

  5. someonEElse says:

    Further more, I wouldn’t be able to support the artists who I find truly valuable if I had to spend my money on every single album that looked slightly interesting to me…

  6. someonEElse says:

    I hate to post 3 times in a row, but this website is also a good multi-media platform for the lively hood of artists.

  7. I’ve read the article, and I’ve read the comments, and I feel a little sad . . . this article to me is a little too happy-go-lucky about the situation that presently exists for artists/musicians/composers who could spend years developing something and never see a dime from it. That is tragic. But that tragedy also indicates — for a musician past a certain age — poor planning. If as a musician you have put all your financial eggs in the basket of selling a single album, the climate in which we have to live and work will simply CRUSH you. Complain about the state of things all you want; I sympathize and agree. But you still have to meet the conditions.

    Before you put anything out now, you need to spend some time thinking about multiple income streams — it would be worth you doing your first project very cheaply (think, “live albums”: buy an Olympus digital recorder with USB access for $59-$99, and invite your friends to come clap and cheer. Cost: $59-$99) in order to give it away online while at the same time thinking about what physical merchandise and what licensing options there may be to attach to it. And, by the way, your music has to be REALLY good to a fairly large number of people — try out your songs in as many places as you can and get some HONEST feedback. It is better to put out three GREAT songs than to put out ten good ones — there are too many good songs already, and you will never cut through. And, by the way, you may not make much on selling any of your hits either — which is why you have to think about licensing and merchandise (and more).

    I recommend a BUSINESS book to those reading; although there is no model for music business now per se, principles for business success for entrepreneurs can be useful to independent musicians. If you intend to make money from your music, you had better start thinking a little more like a business person in a rough economy and figuring out what you can do to meet the conditions — and, Instant Income, by Janet Switzer, can help.

  8. thomas says:

    @Matthew Bentley:

    thank goodness we got some HARD FACTS rather than “one man’s opinion”

    fail post, bro.

  9. b.w. says:

    @Ellen Tift: if i found out tens of thousands of people had downloaded my record, i would be ecstatic. and i make music for a living. ten thousand downloads, even for free. that kind of exposure is hard to come by. besides, i don’t think george is saying it’s all good and fine that music is copied without authorization, just that it is a reality. to believe that it is possible to make any sort of significant profit from the sale of music alone is silly. it is 2011, people get their music for free all the time. it’s reality. embrace it or you will be angry forever. i wish ten thousand people would rip ME off.

  10. Damien says:

    Great post! I agree with you theres nothing really we can do as musicians to stop unauthorized copies of our music. I would worry about music piracy and unauthorized copies if I were someone big like the band U2. But untill then I’m going to worry about getting my music heard.

    Music Marketing

  11. if i were as big as U2, i would not be worried about “piracy” and unauthorised copying, because it wouldn’t be affecting my income. U2 do not lose sleep overnight worrying about how they’re going to pay the rent.

    The fact that you can get any of your favourite big acts’ music for free fairly easily is not damaging those bigger bands, it’s simply stopping any small/new bands from “breaking through”, because all the listeners are now conditioned to expect free music from everybody the whole time. Remember that when U2 were starting out, the music industry was able to force people to pay for albums, that’s how U2 became a big band in the first place.

    It definitely is a very different situation now, and it’s yet to be seen whether the current climate can work as well, for artistes. I’m not saying it can’t, i’m just saying it’s very different, and yet many people out there in the music world seem to be operating like nothing’s changed since the seventies.

  12. Rich says:

    Very interesting discussion all around. I’ve noticed a lot of posters making various analogies to other industries. One that has not been mentioned: newspapers. I’d be interested to hear what people would say about that industry. I don’t know much about it, but I think we all know a couple of basic facts: 1) that there has been no uniform way of responding to the internet; some papers (like the New York Times) offer their full content for free online (although for awhile you had to pay extra for “premium” content); other papers offer some stories for free but charge for the others (Wall Street Journal); other papers probably do other things; 2) advertising apparently pays for the free content; 3) many decent newspapers have gone completely out of business; 4) everyone (or more liberal people I guess) just gets their national/international news from the NYT because it is the best (on some level), because it is free, and because there is actually a sense of community that comes out of this; i.e. people always say, “oh my gosh, did you read that article in the NYT the other day about xyz?” (especially if it was on the list of “most emailed”) and if you read the paper then you can actually have a conversation with them.

    Not sure what conclusions, if any, to draw from this, but I thought I would just throw it out there.

  13. Robert L. says:

    Your article reminded me of a quote by baseball’s Rickey Henderson, who happened to be Nolan Ryan’s record-setting strikeout when Ryan set the record for career strikeouts. When asked by reporters how it felt to be the record-setting strikeout, Henderson replaied, “If you havn’t been struck out at least once by Nolan Ryan, then you ain’t nobody!”. Same thing with music. If you’re not being illegally downloaded, then you ain’t nobody.

  14. Dave says:

    Very well put, Ellen. It seems like the unauthorized downloaders (cockroaches as I affectionately refer to them as) usually use all the flawed logic they can think of to justify their actions, while the people getting screwed, the musicians who actually have enough fans to perhaps make a profit if enough of those fans actually purchased the music, are mostly on the other side.

    I’ve also heard the argument “Well, you just have to be flexible and adaptive. The revenue model has changed. You might not be making any money on your recordings, but you’ll have lots more fans coming to shows and you’ll make money that way”. Not true. I say that from my experience (comparing numbers from both before and after file sharing became rampant) and from the experience of 20 other bands that I know that don’t tour because they lose money touring.

    The entire middle class has been ripped out of the music industry. The artists with a small or no fan base will always lose money, and the huge artists will always make money despite being downloaded and pirated. It’s the middle class that will be starved out of existence, and unfortunately that’s where the greatest pool of creativity is.

  15. JOHN4REAL says:

    Music isn’t being “devalued”. Consumers determine the value of a product simply from “consuming” it, free, paid, or otherwise. So if “thousands and thousands” of people have downloaded Ellen’s album, then her music is VALUABLE…

    Here’s a riddle for you “glass half empty” readers: will you (A) continue “worrying” about the pirates, bootleggers, and P2P downloading, or will you (B) channel your energy into figuring out how to get your music to these check-writing phone companies & digital distributors??!!

    Read about Muve Music

    While you’re working out the above, go ahead and put some 30 sec snippets of your music on your website, along with a PayPal or Band Camp (etc) link to make your money from full-length album sales. Then put a “video” of said music on YouTube (even if it’s only a shot of your album cover) and create an outrageous fake title (i.e. “Boy Tasers Policeman”, etc). Now post said video link on various gossip blogs. Repeat process until you start making $$$ :-)

  16. @seriousfun: Right on! Labelling kids as “pirates and theives” is really just a projection of those record execs own personal business strategies. Basic psychological projection of their own theiveries against artists onto the new youth generation of “hoodlums”. People who talk like that sound so 1950′s McCarthy-era.
    Sometimes girls buy my cds, and are so excited they just say right to my face, “I love your music so much I’m gonna burn it for all my friends….” How can I bash love like that? They don’t even realize there is an element of wrongness in doing that. Just innocent excitement. “Thanks,” is all I can say and hope they keep comin out to the shows. Now when a guy who made 6 figures told me that one day at work he used my music as part of a corporate workshop on creativity and burned copies for everyone in attendance, I felt very differently. Then I felt like,” shame on you dude…I can barely put gas in my car…thanks alot.”
    So for me… it really depends. great article Miss Meaghan

  17. Jeremy George says:

    No wonder no-one’s come up with a solution to unauthorized copying – You’re all bitching in this topic. I don’t take kindly to being labeled “a thief/pirate”. No. Unauthorized copying is what I do to people who can’t get over the fact that they think they’re hot shit (you’re not. That includes all you whiners who posted sometime in the last few years). Streaming is great, it’s the best way to get your music heard. I’d actually rather listen to stuff via streaming, then find some way to “steal”, or even buy it. Sadly, this is probably just me. Most people can’t figure out how to keep a tab open in their web-browser for more than 5 minutes without having to close it and then open a new tab for something else.

  18. Jeremy George, have you listened to everybody’s music who has replied to this article? If not, where do you get off telling everyone they’re “not hot shit”? Also, why would you want to make unauthorised copies of their work if you thought that about their music? Also, did you even read any of the comments? The majority do not think that unauthorised copying is piratical or even morally wrong, as far as i can see. In fact, did you read anything on this page at all before rattling vitriol out onto your keyboard?

    I find your suggestion that some sort of “solution” could be come up with if less “bitching” was done to be supremely confusing as well, clearly your thought processes work very differently to mine.

    By the way, i’m not just poking fun, if you can straighten out any of these confusions i have with your last post, i’d be very interested.

  19. Jeremy George says:

    @Calum Carlyle:TROLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  20. thanks for replying Jeremy, i think i’ve got a clear idea of how seriously i should treat your input now. :-D

  21. Tom says:

    @Dubber:

    I find treating people like consumers far more offensive. Calling us consumers says how little you value the individual in the first place – that’s why you’re bothered they’re not falling in line and paying for music, like good little consumers.

  22. Bob says:

    This article just plain advocates piracy. Sorry, but people are not entitled to our unique creations. We deserve to be paid for our time, work, and money spent; and listeners who appreciate the music should respect that. Your article doesn’t even slap them on the wrist. From what you’re saying, Dubber, we should then be allowed to download movies, shows and games freely without remorse–unless of course you’re devaluing music in comparison, which I would find highly disagreeable.

  23. Blackhole says:

    There’s something wrong, and I noticed it in a few comments here and there. Music is art. Painting is art. Have you ever seen a painter going famous by selling his art right at the start ? No. That’s because that’s not possible.

    You just should try being a Musician instead of being a commercial in the first place, because you don’t sell anything we can touch, anything we can use in everyday’s life like a fork, a pair of shoes or toothpaste, you sell feelings, like any other form of art. People might like what you do, other might not, others might just listen to it from time to time. Now, you want to focus on people who will love what you do, and that starts at just being a musician.

    Let’s take some contemporary example, Samo, now a famous street artist, was poor as hell, had to pay the bills like everyone else so he had to take little jobs here and there. But well, he lived for his art, he just kept going on, painted because he loved it, gave his work to people he met, sold some for peanuts. Eventually he met the right people, and he started having a larger audience, people were talking about him because they loved what he did. So they bought it, and he finally ended working with figures like Warhol.

    So, what you have to understand is, wanting to be paid for art in the first place is wrong. Because that will get you nowhere. You do art because you love what you do, you love to express yourself through music/painting/theater/dancing only because you love it, not because you want to sell it. If you happen to sell some, well, that’s good ! But that should never, ever, be the first thing you think about when you compose your songs.

    Now, Internet has made the world entirely different, you can promote your work easier, to a larger mass of people, but you will still be in the same shit than artists ever were in. Same goes for unauthorized duplication. It’s just a different world, but with new problems and solutions, you can’t control that, and you shouldn’t care of it anyway, just make music, maybe you’ll sell some to people who love it, and in the end you might be lucky enough to meet the right people.

    [Addendum: I'm a student in a Graphical Arts school, I happen to sell some of my work to friends of friends, but right now, I'm just happy to draw. I draw because I love it. I also download lots of music, I can't pay for much of it, but with Internet and peer-to-peer, at least I'm now able to choose which artists will get my money, and that's always the ones I love the most, independently of how famous they are.]

  24. Versus says:

    “Copying, as I’ve mentioned before, just happens online.”

    This promotion of passivity and acceptance of a wrong is a classic fallacy: the is-ought gap. The fact that matters stand a certain way does not make it right that they are so.

    ” You can’t legislate against it, prevent it by technical means nor force people to behave in ways that you would like them to.”

    Of course you can. The purpose of the law is exactly to enforce certain ethical and moral standards of behavior. Begin by educating in the value of intellectual property. For those who fail to comprehend the message, enforce the law, and make the penalties strong enough that one will not repeat the infraction.

    - Versus

  25. @Versus – your comments are spot on, except that not everyone may agree that simply copying music is wrong. You seem to assume that any copying of a copyright work is morally wrong. It only is wrong because our society made it illegal.

    I support legislation as a framework to try and ensure fairness in creativity, but legislation is not a 100% successful framework or we wouldn’t be even discussing this.

    One important issue that many struggle to talk about is the issue of artists making their works freely copyable. This is perfectly legal, but is it undermining those who wish to try and make a living from their art? Logic would say yes, evidence would say no. I paid full price to go and see Explosions In The Sky live last week, and why did i do that? because i had downloaded their stuff to listen to and really enjoyed it.

    But wait! This band don’t have a problem with people sharing recordings of their performances, you can get tons of stuff by them on archive.org, and if this wasn’t the case, i wouldn’t have heard of their music, and wouldn’t have bought the ticket.

    Just making the point it isn’t as simple as prohibition and enforcement. And remember, it’s art, it’s supposed to be enjoyable, for the artists and the people.

  26. As a little PS to everyone saying things like “This article just plain advocates piracy” i really have to say, if you have a problem with people copying your music there is one foolproof solution: don’t play your music to anyone. Certainly don’t put it on the internet. Problem solved.

  27. Thomas N. says:

    Hello!

    The latest comment has some cynism in it. To me, it reads like “if you don’t wanna get shot, never ever leave your home” – that comment misses the point that pirates are offenders instead of victims.

    If we’re talking about those downloads that are meant to be free (as “Explosions In The Sky” obviously did), then I do agree with Calum Carlyle’s oppinion.
    However, if an artist decides to sell their music, then I regard downloading that music without paying anything as really disrespectful (note that “disrespectful” is a moral categorisation, not a legal one)

  28. Dave Howes says:

    Just to turn the argument round…..
    A friend of mine runs a small shop and, like me, plays music from like-minded people who choose to share their music for free with no copyright. Unlike me, he is being hounded by the PRS for not paying them a licence fee to play this music, despite the fact that they have no connection with the musicians involved, and freely admit that none of these ‘royalties’ will ever get beyond their own bank account. Surely this is piracy and theft in it’s most blatant form, demanding money with menaces for someone else’s freely given work, and keeping it?

  29. Jon Cotton says:

    2 flaws to all this IMHO:

    1. Encouraging the public acceptance that copyright is irrelevant in the digital world may (possibly) be workable for music where we can monetise tshirts instead but it will kill games, ebooks and films. So if we have to protect their IP as far as possible, why not also protect music? There’s a world of difference between it being possible to copy somethng and it beng ACCEPTIBLE to copy something.

    2. “2) The vast majority of people who have unauthorised copies of your music would not have ordinarily paid for it anyway” link to supporting stats please?

  30. Arthur Jammz says:

    First, my soapbox speech:

    These all sound like perfect justifications for why unauthorized copying is acceptable. But let me refer to a general truth of life:

    “Doing the right thing requires no justification.”

    If you’re doing something you know is good, you don’t waste time on thoughts like, “…but what I’m doing is actually okay, because…” You just do it. Whatever it is you’re doing, copying music or otherwise, if you find an inner voice justifying why what you are doing is okay, it’s because a deeper inner voice knows IT’S WRONG.

    To name two points specifically:
    1) “The vast majority of people who have unauthorised copies of your music would not have ordinarily paid for it anyway”

    Sure. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I just went to a Chevy dealership, and broke into and drove off with a brand new Corvette. But it’s okay, because I would have never had the money to afford one, and otherwise would never have bought one anyway. So I just took one instead. I’m sure the people at the Chevy dealership will understand.

    2) “Do you really want for people who cannot afford your music to be prevented from ever hearing it?”

    Seriously? It costs 99 cents for a song at iTunes. Less at some other sites. If you can afford the computer to get to iTunes in the first place, then you should be able to afford the 99 cents to buy a song.

    But enough of fantasy. Back to the real world.

    Unauthorized copying is every bit as bad as piracy, just on a smaller scale. But guess what? I do agree that the problem is so enormous that it is futile to try to stop it. Every business in the world, music or not, has a problem with shoplifting. From an accounting standpoint, all retail businesses actually set aside money each year to cover losses due to shoplifting. According to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), they list a separate account on their Chart of Accounts called ‘Inventory Shrinkage’, which covers loss due to theft, damage, expiration of products with shelf-life dates and such.

    The message here is simple: Your music will get stolen by some. Don’t worry about it, plan your business model around it. For one example, perhaps generate some of your revenue from T-shirt sales. Last I checked, no one can download and steal a T-shirt.

    One final comment to anyone reading this: The musician(s) who wrote the music you are listening to had to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars buying their equipment, repairing it, and taking lessons to learn to play it. It took them years (sometimes decades) to learn to play their own instrument, hundreds more hours to find the right other musicians to play it with, and practice it to perfection. It took many very expensive hours in the studio to record. mix and master it. they had to pay for things like copyright registration of their music, trademark registration for their logo, paying an attorney to verify they’re not about to violate someone else’s copyright. They had to pay to get the logo, album art, and website designed, and the CD’s and inlays duplicated in little protected jewel cases for those who’d rather have a hard copy…

    I could go on forever with the enormous amount of time, money, and effort that goes into presenting you with a single CD. All they’re asking in return from you is ten bucks. Help ‘em out, would ya?

  31. Ophelia Millais says:

    @Arthur Jammz: It is not my responsibility as a consumer to take into account how much money, time and effort went into producing the commodity that you want me to pay for. You can slap any price you want on it, but it doesn’t make it actually worth that much. If 99% of the people who want it don’t consider it worth paying for, its nominal value is zero (as is the nominal cost of producing & distributing with today’s technology), even if the remaining 1% will pay anywhere from $1 to $25 for it. I say take the 1% where you can get it, and be damn grateful anyone is interested in it at all. No one is entitled to profit from your art. If you do happen to stay in the black or earn a comfortable living from it, you are and always have been one of the extremely fortunate few, and it was wrong of you to feel as if you are forever entitled to maintain that lifestyle, especially off of work you did 10, 20, 30+ years ago. If that makes you resentful or unwilling to create it, then good riddance.

  32. Arthur Jammz says:

    @Ophelia Millais:
    Okay, let me respond to this…

    “It is not my responsibility as a consumer to take into account how much money, time and effort went into producing the commodity that you want me to pay for.”

    Absolutely true. It is always the burden of the seller to determine what price they think the market will bear for their products.

    “If 99% of the people who want it don’t consider it worth paying for, its nominal value is zero”

    It amazes me how thieves can talk out of both sides of their mouth. One side says, “This sounds so cool, I need to download a copy of it now!” The other side says, “I don’t consider this worth paying for, its nominal value is zero.” Is it good or not? If it’s not worth anything, why do you want a copy of it bad enough to download it? Make up your mind…

    “…its nominal value is zero (as is the nominal cost of producing & distributing with today’s technology)”

    Absolutely false. Services like TuneCORE and CDBaby make internet distribution extremely cheap, but not free. They charge 99 cents per song, and take a healthy 40% chunk for their own operating costs, making their money in volume.

    And you say the nominal cost of producing is free? How uneducated of you. Either you buy your recording equipment (DAW, microphones, etc.) or you pay a recording studio for use of theirs. And, you either hire someone ot run it, or take the time and money for classes to learn to run it yourself. If you know of one that does this for free, PLEASE let me know.

    “If you do happen to stay in the black or earn a comfortable living from it, you are and always have been one of the extremely fortunate few…”

    I absolutely agree. That’s why most independent musicians have day jobs, and pay recording expenses out-of-pocket. Most are not trying to live a life of extravagant luxury, but just to recoup their recording costs.

    “It was wrong of you to feel as if you are forever entitled to maintain that lifestyle, especially off of work you did 10, 20, 30+ years ago.”

    There’s ongoing costs as well, ask any Publisher. You have to constantly monitor sales and usage of the song from places like ASCAP and Harry Fox Agency, collect money from consumers, labels and distributors who are slow to pay, and pay taxes to the IRS for any profit. Band websites to sell the music have operating costs, copyrights and trademarks need renewal, etc. This will cost as much if not more 10, 20, years from now.

    In summary, I refer back to my previous analogy. If a Chevy dealer (who we both agree is responsible for pricing) says a Corvette costs $55,000, you’re saying out of one side of your mouth, “Corvettes are so cool, I’m driving one home today! Give me the keys!” Out of the other side of your mouth saying, “99% of the people who want Corvettes can’t afford $55,000, therefore it’s worth $0.00, therefore give it to me for free.”

    Why is it that this sounds absurd if the product in question is a Corvette, but not if the product in question is a song?

  33. KrisThreat says:

    The last comment was made months ago, but I always like to throw my two cents in.

    The idea that the majority of people who download your music illegally were never going to buy it anyway is pretty damn true. My taste is punk and metal, but I have some pop artists on my iPod that had I not had the opportunity to “steal” the music, they still would not be on my iPod and I would NEVER listen to them. But instead I said, its free, why not? I simply do not like the pop artists as much as my favorite punk artists so purchasing physical or even paying for digital is not something I’m going to do EVER. This also extends to artists I DO really like. About 90 percent of the music I listen to I found online through various music blogs and randomly downloaded for no reason. Never heard of it before, simply said why not. If this music wasn’t available to me the way it was I still wouldn’t know who they are. The other 10% is music I had bought because I already liked the artist. If I like an artist I will shell out the money to help them out. If I have NEVER heard of an artist I won’t. So 90% of the music I have are artists I would never have bought to begin with. However alot of those artists I have grown to like enough to buy future albums from them or better yet, go see them live when they come through.

    I am a musician. I see this as an opportunity to be heard. The story about have tens of thousands of people download your shit. I want that so bad. I don’t care at all if they stole it from me. The fact that they liked it enough to steal from me is great. I was happy as fuck when I discovered someone had purchased my bands album from my bandcamp and proceeded to upload it to megaupload for others to get for free. It got downloaded by people who would have NEVER gotten it before. When I create music its to satisfy my want to play and other peoples want to hear…money is an added bonus if I even get any.

    I think you have to take into consideration what I just said in the previous paragraph and the fact that alot of stuff getting downloaded (atleast what my friends and I download) are harder to find releases from bands that are no longer around. If you make legislation keeping people from downloading current artists…then these other artists who aren’t here to continue sharing their own music will be lost to many people such as myself because the law will make it impossible to tell the difference…and I think thats a tragedy.

  34. Selim says:

    “If I like an artist I will shell out the money to help them out.”

    “help them out.”…that attitude kind of encapsulates what’s wrong with many of the current pro piracy arguments. Do you buy milk, bread, a TV, a pair of shoes, to “help” the manufacturers out? I’m sure that the pop musicians whose music you downloaded for free even though you don’t really like them would rather you took yourself and your trigger finger elsewhere, to put it mildly.

    As for the rest of your comments, fair enough, you’re an amateur hobbyist who wants to connect to other people. Nothing wrong with that at all, but don’t confuse that with someone with serious talent who wants recognition and the rewards that come with that. Their aim in life is not to go begging cap in hand in search of an audience, any audience. You wouldn’t dedicate your life and huge amounts of perseverance & effort for that.

    But you sort of have a point in your final paragraph. There’s definitely something to be said for a system which breaks down the old, restrictive models of distribution and impedes a powerful few from becoming the sole arbiters of what gets heard by everyone else. But please, no platitudes about how “real” artists just want to get heard, by any means necessary, it simply isn’t true.

  35. Ophelia Millais says:

    @Arthur Jammz: You assume too much about me; I am not just a consumer, I’m a musician and I’m not a thief. To some extent, you missed my points and erroneously believe that anything that’s desirable and that some people will pay for must always be paid for, even when not scarce, but I’ll just focus on your final straw man. My response amounts to the “copying is not stealing” mantra you’ve probably encountered before. The Corvette is a scarce physical good; digital music is not directly comparable. If the relatively impoverished 99% could instantly copy and cause to materialize in their garage any Corvette and each other’s copies thereof, at no cost to anyone, then it doesn’t preclude the dealer, taking his cue from the bottled water business, from continuing to sell or lease his authorized Corvettes to the 1% who can help him and Chevy recoup their costs. In this scenario of no lost sales, it’s a stretch to say that the unauthorized copies are each worth $55,000, or that “theft” has occurred. Likely there are some in the 1% who are harder to sell to, but the revenue hit is not an insurmountable problem, as I’m reminded every time I opt to get my car fixed at the dealer rather than by a relatively affordable independent mechanic…

  36. Andrew says:

    @Ophelia Millais: I agree with you completely about the Corvette metaphor. It is a comparison of apples to oranges. The Corvette is a physical entity that as you stated, is scarce, and each unit requires thousands of dollars and much time to produce. On the other hand, a digital copy of a song requires a fraction of a cent and almost no time to produce. As such, the theft of a car comes with the loss of thousands of dollars of raw materials and time while the unauthorized download of a song is an incredibly small increase of the electrical bill of the source and the person getting the copy. In this case the original artist has no direct loss associated with the download, assuming the downloader would not have normally purchased it, and as many people have stated, these downloads are similar to test driving the Corvette. Why would you ever buy a $55,000 car without knowing if you like it, let alone buying several? I personally know many people who will use theses downloads to get a taste of the music and will then buy copies of it to support the artists. Saying that you can’t try the music is like saying you can’t try out your Corvette. I know that I hate finding that an album that I just spent my money on is not worth the investment.

    And on a completely different note, legislation to combat unauthorized copies and piracy have been shown to be mostly ineffective at increasing revenue. France has some of the strictest antipiracy laws in the world, some studies citing drops of up to 66% in piracy overall in the past few years, and the music industry is still having increased losses in profit. Were piracy really the problem this would not be the case. Yes, I do have sources for this data, if you feel so inclined you can see them here. http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/04/02/2037214/despite-drop-in-piracy-french-music-industry-still-in-decline

  37. view says:

    I’m having some minor security problems with my latest website and I’d like to find something more safeguarded.

  38. David says:

    Merch merch merch merch merch.

    My band makes more on one night of t-shirt selling at a show than we make in 3 months of itunes money. You can’t copy a t-shirt (well you can, but it’s easier to buy one that’s already made).

    And that’s not even counting stickers, buttons, physical CD’s, and even vinyl (if you can afford to make it).

    In business terms, the music is no longer the product you’re selling (which is actually pretty neat if you think about it), but people will buy your stuff if they like your music enough.