Friday, April 10, 2009

File sharing and its effects on the music biz..

To working musicians everywhere,
I have a teenage son who tells me his pirating music is no big deal. Since he is a musician himself, I point out to him that someday that’s going to be his money people are stealing. But he remains unphased.

He tells me the record sales make money for the record label, not the artist. He says that the artists make all their money from touring and live concerts. He thinks the pirated music promotes the concerts and therefore helps the artist make more money. I still don’t allow pirating in my house.

But tell me what you think - as artists out there having your work “shared,” are you just glad to have it being enjoyed, or does it bother you? Admittedly, he is stealing music that is recorded by major record labels, so maybe its different than the independent musician working for his living. But I’d still like to hear what you think.


Dear Valerie,
My name is Vivian and my husband and I are both workimg musicians.
About 8 years ago when pirating seemed to really start to catching on, I used to be completly paranoid that someone would come to our house and drag my husband out by the scruff of his neck. He pirated music day and night..

At that time, people were getting fined and arrested for pirating, there was one kid that was sued by a record company for several thousands of dollars. Their point was to try to make an example out of the poor kid.
Of course my husband kept right on downloading music and never ended up in jail or fined.. (Yet, that is..)
Just because he didn't doesn't make it alright.

A couple of years ago now, my husband and I independently released our own cd, and of course, our music has also been pirated along with many other recordings I've done for and with various artists over the years. Ironically, this is a fact that my
husband has had a bit of a hard time dealing with, while I, on the other hand have come to accept this as a way of life.

While it's not exactly true that artists don't make $$ from record sales, it is true that most artists, especially newer artists, do make the bulk of their $$ from touring and performing but they also make a chunk of $$ from publishing which is also drying up due to lack of record sales which is a direct result of pirating. And obviously for independent artists like ourselves, we stand to lose a bigger percentage of $$ from pirating because we get to keep the biggest percentage of $$ from record sales. This is the way independent music stores are set up, to aid the independent musician.

The internet has irrevocably changed the face of music forever and in many ways, this change is absolutely for the better. The amount of opportunites available to independent musicians, to have our music heard and sold are infinite..
The amount of work that goes with these opportunities, might also be infinite. On the one hand the internet has opened many doors for me as an artist as well as a consumer, on the other hand the internet has made stealing intellectual properties relatively easy. What we have is a double edged sword.

Seriously though, when I think back on the stranglehold record companies have had on the music industry for the last 60 years or so, I'd say all in all, I absolutely prefer things the way they are now with this much more level playing field.

I don't now, nor have I ever believed that being an artist should be the crap shoot it has been. I've seen many a no talent individual reach super star status while so many truly gifted, inspired, and incredibly unique artists go unnoticed..
I've seen artist after artist be cheated, stolen from or treated horribly by their labels. I personally have been told by a few label execs that I need to copy the style of this or that artist if I ever wanted make it in this business or be signed to a label..

It's this shift in the music business that has, without a doubt, inspired me to want to make music again..
In this arena, I actually feel like I have the ability to find my own voice, my own audience and on my own terms, and though I'd like to be paid for my music, I'm happy to know that people are listening and interested, whether they pay for it or not.

Thank you for reading..
mama said music can change the world..

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