Music Piracy: A music industry insider talks illegal downloads, new laws, and 10 billion iTunes downloads

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Excerpted from an interview originally posted on

Whichever side of the fence you’re on in regard to the issues of music piracy, as artists creating music for public consumption, it’s a topic of special concern. Here, Alex Jacob of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) talks about the music industry, illegal downloads, and some of the causes the IFPI champions. The IFPI is Europe’s equivalent to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the group that represents the interests of the major (and other) labels, distributors, and producers in the music industry in the U.S.

Tell me about IFPI.
IFPI is the international trade body for the record labels, both the four internationals and also many hundreds of independent labels throughout the world. We exist to try and persuade governments and policy makers of the importance of strengthening intellectual property laws in the Digital Age so that our members can continue to invest in artists and produce great new music. We also work to extend the rights of our members in areas of Public Performance Rights. For example, you might know that the U.S. is one of the few countries that doesn’t have broadcast rights for producers or artists. So that means unlike in the UK or in France, every time a radio station in the U.S. plays a track, it pays the songwriter, but it doesn’t pay the producer or artist. When you have a $20 billion corporate radio industry, that’s potentially a lot of money that the music industry is losing out on in comparison to other countries. It also means that when American artists are played on radio stations overseas, that money doesn’t float back to them because there is no reciprocal arrangement for when overseas artists are played in the U.S. Those are the kinds of campaigns we work on.

That sounds like SoundExchange if it covered the non-digital broadcasts.
That’s absolutely right. And then you have sister organizations of SoundExchange such as Phonographic Performance, Ltd. (PPL) in the UK that collects income from radio stations and TV stations that use recorded music. These music licensing companies work very closely with IFPI and our performance rights committees to try and ensure that the best practice is copied around the world and that the rights of producers and artists are extended around the world so that everyone enjoys a level playing field.

Would you say the primary function of the IFPI, at this point, is to protect digital copyright? Is that where a lot of your efforts are focused?
Yes. IFPI has been around for a long time. It was founded back in 1933, and has always fulfilled a range of functions. But piracy has always been right up there on IFPI’s agenda. And piracy has a physical world too – the CD world. At one point, roughly one in three CDs sold worldwide was a counterfeit and had no money going back to the artists and record producers, so it was obviously a major issue. In the digital world, we estimate that 95% of music downloads online are unlicensed and illegal, with no money going back to the producers and artists. There’s a quantum leap in the level of piracy from the physical/CD world into the digital world. When you’re laboring under that burden of an industry, it has to be one of your major priorities.

Do you think there is any going back at this point? Do you ever foresee a time where Pandora’s Box will close?
I think we’re very keen to embrace the legitimate use of technology. Our members have licensed more than 30 million tracks through over 470 legal services worldwide. So, there’s no objection to making music available to consumers and music fans online. The problem is obviously the illegal downloading and streaming – the piracy problem. And as I said, 95% of music downloads are unlicensed and illegal. That’s one hell of a figure. We do think that we can improve on that. We’re starting to see countries worldwide introduce legislation to tackle the problem – in France, South Korea, New Zealand, the UK. Governments are starting to put laws on the books that actually require some cooperation from internet service providers (ISPs), who are effectively the gatekeepers of the internet. In tackling online piracy – not just of music, but also of books, films, software, games – President Sarkozy has convened this huge conference in Paris in which he’s brought together the content industries and the tech industries to talk about how we can create what he calls a “civilized internet” – an internet where privacy laws are respected, that can’t be abused for criminal use and one where intellectual copyright is respected and creators can actually get some remuneration for their work. And that doesn’t just mean in the music industry or with iTunes or other services. There are many different business models out there. There are streaming services that are free for people to use and enjoy, such as Spotify, and YouTube is of course extremely popular as a free-to-use video streaming service. Alongside that there are subscription services and download stores.

But it’s that help from government that we feel can help us move the needle in terms of piracy. We’re doing our bit in terms of licensing all these range of services. And now governments and ISPs need to do their bit to establish the rule of law online and stop it from being, as Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand said, a “wild west.”

Where do the negotiations in the U.S. and the UK – which are two of the biggest music markets on the planet – stand?
In the UK, the Digital Economy Act was passed last year. It still has to be fully implemented. There was a judicial review of the Act brought by two ISPs that was rejected, although they are now considering whether or not to appeal that. But under the terms of the new Digital Economy Act, ISPs have to send notices to individual users that are uploading copyright-infringing files and say, “We know what you’re doing, please stop and start using the legal services that are out there.” And if a system of notifications alone doesn’t work in the UK, then ISPs will be mandated to bring in sanctions.

What about in the U.S.? Have you made any headway with government stepping in and protecting these rights?
We certainly have a lot of political support from people like New York Governor Cuomo, Vice President Biden and from other politicians. I know the film industry as well as the music industry has been trying to reach out to ISPs. There is no response at the moment, but we’re hoping the U.S. will look and see what’s happening in other countries like France and the UK and see the success story from those countries that may move things forward.

What about the ratio of purchase to piracy? Has piracy planed at this 95-percent rate?
The ratio of pirated music to legally-purchased music has been pretty constant. But what we’re seeing is that as broadband networks roll out across the world, both the legal and illegal consumption of music increases in tandem with that rollout. So, the 95-percent rate has remained constant, but that percentage reflects both rising piracy and also rising legal sales. iTunes for example, earlier this year marked its 10-billionth music file sold. Legal services are popular, but at the moment they are still dwarfed by piracy. We very much hope that all the work we’re doing to try to get a modernized set of copyright laws along the lines you see in countries like France and South Korea will help shift the needle on the 95 percent. The first graduated response systems have only started running in the last few months, so it’s still very early days. But we have to be optimistic that both the new services that are coming on stream and these kinds of actions that are backed by government will have an effect.

Is there anything copyright /content holders can do that lessens the amount of piracy?
Absolutely there is. We run an internet anti-piracy team here, and our international groups do as well. If record labels register their content with us, then we can put out content protection guys to work to try to curb the amount of illegal distribution of their work online. Last year for example, the internet anti-piracy group here in London secured the take-down of seven million infringing links worldwide. They can also help record labels talk through their whole protection procedure, ensuring that they have the best systems in place to minimize the damage from leaks. It’s very difficult to avoid all leaks, particularly once the CD has been shipped out from the factory to the stores ahead of sale. But they can help you reduce the leaks during the period before the official release. And the average leak a couple years ago used to be several weeks before an album was released; now it tends to be just several days. That is at least mitigating some of the impact. And of course subsequent to the leak are take-down notices put out against the blogs and forums that are posting links to the illegal content. That kind of action can really make a difference and can make all the difference to an artist’s initial chart position that, as you know is so important when they’re trying to market the album further and get on. The difference between getting into the Top 20 and not getting there is huge.

So, it certainly is worth any record label, small though they may be, talking to their IFPI-affiliated national group and registering their content so we can help them.

So, quite literally, someone would go to the IFPI directly – or the RIAA in this country – and just register. Does the size of the label matter? Do you have to have a certain number of copyrights?
No. The actual official IFPI statute talks about making sound recordings available in “reasonable numbers.” We have many small independent members that have a fairly limited repertoire. But our internet anti-piracy guys are out there working on the big Taylor Swift releases and also classical indie labels like Hyperion on their piano concerto series. There’s a full range of work they undertake. Definitely the advice I’d give to any record label is to go speak to your local industry association and register your repertoire.

Most of our readers are DIY musicians. So, if you’re a single artist that started a record label to release your own album, and then you went to any of the direct distributors – ReverbNation, TuneCore, CD Baby – would you be eligible for the types of services IFPI and its affiliate organizations offer?
Off the top of my head, I think you would be. If you’re making sound recordings available, even through a partner, and at a reasonable level trying to commercially sell them, you’re certainly someone we’d be interested in talking to. The systems are here and set up and working. We recently had a conference organized by the Association of Independent Music (AIM) – which is the indie body in the UK – to try to set up small indies. And they are often artists that are self-releasing and forming their own label.

Alex Jacob is the Senior Communications Executive at the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) in London, UK. He has worked at the IFPI for over five years as a member of the communications team. He is responsible for reaching out to stakeholders and working with the media to explain developments in the music industry and the steps required to develop a sustainable digital music sector in the future. IFPI is headquartered in London, but has offices worldwide in cities including Miami, Hong Kong, and Brussels. The organization also works with 45 affiliated groups, such as the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) in the UK, the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the U.S.

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55 thoughts on “Music Piracy: A music industry insider talks illegal downloads, new laws, and 10 billion iTunes downloads

  1. Some extended commentary on these issues (from someone who’s been in the online intellectual property policy debate since the mid-1990s):

    All of the professional musicians I know (in the “have an album” sense, not just the “studio session guy” or “records jingles for radio commercials and also does weddings” sense) are described by the following:
    * They’re adults, with realistic expectations; not kids or just out of college, nor wildly idealistic about their prospects or the reality of the work and the industry. (Previous commenter Morris1988’s dismissive assumptions in this regard are way off-base.)
    * They’re not entirely dependent on music – they’re also system administrators, graphic designers, waitstaff, accountants, bartenders, electricians, Uber drivers, etc., etc. (As a once-serious drummer, this reminds me of the classic joke: How do you get a drummer off your porch? Pay for the pizza he’s delivering!)
    * They’re making almost all their music-related money on ticket sales, merchandise, sales of CDs (and MP3 sticks, and collector-oriented vinyl) at their shows, and direct-sold special recordings (e.g., crowd-funded EPs, or “give me $1 via PayPal for this exclusive remix from my website”). Few of them see an even noticeable much less noteworthy income from their CDs sold at stores or digital sales from venues like Amazon or iTunes. This is because – now, as always – the labels and distributors keep most of the proceeds from such sales.

    The only ways you’re going to make money selling CDs the old-school way or the online equivalent through iTunes, etc., are: a) if you’re not on a major label but have become the darling of college radio or some other niche market that drives people to buy your stuff in fairly large quantities despite you not having the marketing and distribution means of a major label; or b) you’re a huge F’ing deal on mainstream radio, and sell so much product that you still make a tidy profit despite being on a major label who pay you only a tiny cut per sale (and none at all until production, distribution, and [the real money pit!] promotional costs are covered). This dynamic has existed since at least the 1960s; the Internet has only drawn the lines a bit sharper. It’s also interestingly produced exactly the opposite of the result predicted by RIAA doomsayers back in the Napster days: Today we have an unprecedented number of independent, pro-am music artists, who are making some money at it, meanwhile the mainstream music industry and its mega-stars are also actually doing just fine despite industry whining (the labels have finally started to diversify their profit-making strategies a bit, instead of doing nothing but reaming the artists).

    That doesn’t mean I think all music should be free or that copyright shouldn’t exist. I think people lose their minds in this debate on both sides. Why should my song be free to you (if I don’t want to give it away), when you expect to get paid for the sandwich you made me at your restaurant job, or paid for the website you built me as web developer? Not perfect analogies, but “artists and producers want to get paid” is and will always remain the flip side of “music wants to be free”. On the other hand, it’s utterly unreasonable to think of every downloaded “pirate” MP3 as a lost sale, or even a fractional lost sale. There is no way in hell that the average listener would actually buy (at any price) even 1/1000th of what they have on their hard drive or mobile device. They can listen to the same stuff for free from the radio, from streaming sites, from satellite “radio”, etc., etc., and what they’re hot to listen to this month will mostly be different next month. People have large MP3 collections largely for trivial amusement and nostalgia reasons and will just do without if it costs them anything directly. I used to be an almost obsessive buyer of music (over half my “disposable” income went to CDs, month after month, year after year, yet I only had a few thousand after over a decade of this. Few people are that obsessive, and this fact mean that most music in possession on the average user’s device never would have been purchased. Stark, cold fact. It’s just not mathematically possible except for a multi-millionaire to buy it all at $1 per song or whatever the going rate is these days.

    A balance of some kind will probably emerge eventually, and I won’t try to predict what it will be. However, torrent sites like the successors to serve several actual public services, whatever harm they also do. The most obvious is providing a free venue for new artists to distribute their own self-produced EPs on a promotional basis, though this is not a huge thing despite being an obvious one. The big deal is preservation of access to out-of-print music (and whatever other content) that is unavailable otherwise except to the most dedicated of collectors of used items. A tremendous amount of music (within our own lifetimes, I don’t just mean ancient wax 78s from 1930s) is just GONE from the market, and generates zero income for anyone other than used record stores and schmoes selling collectibles on eBay. There is precisely zero harm caused to artists or their labels (many of which don’t even exist any more!) when someone “pirates” an out-of-print recording that is likely to stay out of print. (I suspect that previous commenter Wilsonrodriguezsings would agree; I know that he was in a band several of whose releases are no longer available retail.) The first time I had this discussion with a genuine rock star (someone from another alternative rock band I was interviewing for my ‘zine), it was back ’89, before the Internet was a public thing. I told him I really liked the live version B-side of one of their 12” singles better than the studio A side, and had got it on cassette from a friend. When he observed this was technically illegal, I told him how long I’d been trying to get the single on the original vinyl, and couldn’t even direct order it from the label or any other distributor I’d tried, for about a year, and that used copies were selling used for $20 or more in ‘Goldmine’, the record-collector classifieds mag (that’s about $40 in 2017 dollars). He didn’t even know the record was out of print, and was pissed off at his label not me, and conceded that not only had I not cost him any royalties, I might actually have inadvertently earned some for him, since he and the rest of the band would raise hell with the label reps to keep their work available, after they got back home from their tour.

    Moving on, this whole “pirate” and “piracy” thing is stupid and childish pseudo-reasoning. A pirate is someone who invades your vessel and kills or threatens to kill you and everyone else on board, to seize the goods you are shipping and maybe the vessel too. (This really still happens at sea, and sometimes also even happens to unwary truckers on highways.) There is nothing analogous between that and downloading a song (or movie, or application, yadda yadda yadda) that you didn’t pay for. A much closer analogy would be watching TV with a device that filters out commercials for you; or station-surfing the radio so you never listen to ads, only songs; or accepting an invite to a friend’s party and having some beer there without bringing any yourself or chipping in for more; or eating free samples of food at an upscale grocery store without any intent of buying the product in question. These are analogous for the same reason in every case: the resource was going to be provided, at the same cost, whether you partook of it or not – in fact, whether you, as the non-paying consumer in that instance, had ever even been born. Even the last two are not closely analogous because they deal with finite resources with a fixed cost for each item (each beer, each slice of sample cheese). The first two are much closer: via TV, radio, or Internet the content provider has no idea who or how many are going to be in the audience, and providing the content to 2,000 or 200,000 of them has exactly the same cost (though not necessarily the same return on the investment, of course). Providing content is a form of speculation. This also goes for CD production and the like; packaged content is often produced in too large a quantity, and ends up in bargain bins for $1 (which is actually a loss after factoring in all the production and distribution costs). Yet the industry never counts that as an evil, as lost sales revenue.

    CD/DVD/BR counterfeiting is another matter entirely, and more often represents lost sales. It represents lost sales 1:1 only when the counterfeits are good and are sold for full retail, in a market when the legit version is also available. But this is rare. Most of them sell for about 1/5 to 1/3 of retail, and a major driver of movie piracy is the region coding system (i.e., legit copy not available in the place in question). However, the obvious but simplistic math doesn’t add up. If Jim-Bob sells Janet a counterfeit DVD for $3 instead of $12, this does not directly equate to a lost legit sale – or even 25% of one lost sale. This is because of human psychology: for everyone who would pay $12 for one DVD, there are probably ten times that many who would spend $15 to get 5 DVDs. In other words, the number of people willing to spend $3 for what they consider the same product vastly outweighs those who would actually pay full retail rather than just do without the item in question, and they’ll go for what they see as a bargain so often they’ll often spend more in total. (This is well proven, and it’s why sale pricing, coupons, and online discount codes work so well as drivers of unnecessary, impulse-buy purchases.)

    Another legit gripe content providers have is MP3 sites (mostly in Russia) that actually charge money. This again does represent some fractional but actual lost sales, and is clearly as unethical as selling counterfeit CDs. The ethics of providing a free RIP of an indie band’s single no one has been able to actually find and buy for 20 years? Not shady at all. The ethics of uploading a rip of a movie the day it hits DVD and Blu-ray? Definitely shady. A rip of a CD that’s still in print? Also shady. But consider that there are literally millions of “pirated” songs and videos on YouTube, yet its owner Google faces no serious legal repercussions. It’s because no one really gives a damn. Kesha and One Republic and their labels know that pretty much no one is going to think “wow, I can play this and other songs on YT for free, so I will never ever buy a CD or an iTunes/Amazon download ever again”. Fee availability of music on the radio for generations never had that effect, either.

    Entertainment consumption is impulse-driven. People will pay $15 to go see a movie once that they would not pay $10 to own on DVD forever, just because they’re going with friends. Someone will pay $1 for a song on iTunes if they want it right now and they really like the song and want a high-quality version to listen to a zillion times, but they mostly won’t pay at all (whether an illegitimate copy can be found or not) for some other song that they’re not that into but kinda like. Home users are pretty much never going to pay $1000 for a suite of Adobe apps (though downloading cracked copies as teens and learning how to use them translates into actual corporate sales when these people are adults and prefer these tools, not competing ones, as professionals). The same user will, however, pay $4 for a better phone dialer app, and $40 for an awesome console game. Same person may never go to movie theaters as too expensive and inconvenient, yet will pay through the nose to play an online game every month with in-app purchases. Or will never pay for online content of any kind, but goes to the movies three times a week. People are weird, and are driven by temporary and unpredictable motivations, which vary widely from person to person. Meanwhile “content” is not all the same thing, and its value to anyone at any time is almost entirely contextual/situational, not absolute. Most generalizations about content “piracy” are consequently completely full of crap.

    Finally, yes, cutting people off from the Internet completely for downloading some songs is a serious problem and major failure of reality checking (in a first-world country, anyway), since we’re increasingly dependent on the medium for necessities. A lot of information and communication is no longer available by any other means. As a tech worker, I would be unemployed and essentially unemployable if I had no Internet access. Whether you want to frame that in terms of “human rights” or not is beside the point. It’s just common sense. The our-bribed-ministers-have-lost-their-minds situation in the UK cannot continue indefinitely without a lot of serious economic and other consequences.

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  4. From an ethical standpoint, I believe an artist has every right to be angry and seek legal action when their recordings are unwillingly sold for profit or bootlegged by a shady record label. It’s the intellectual property of the artist, who typically writes and composes their own songs. Not to mention, the artist has developed their own way of performing a song, which is documented within the recording.  

    In 2011, a judge ruled in favor of singer Paul Collins, whose  group The Beat lost substantial revenue from a series of unauthorized bootleg recordings released by an underground record label. The recordings were unknowingly engineered during The Beat’s tours with The Police, Eddie Money and The Cure. Although the label argued that the recordings were tracked and mixed by an independent investor during the 1970s and 1980s, Collins was awarded an unspecified amount of damages. Collins was granted permission to digitally re-master and officially release the live recordings. In response to backlash and negative publicity from fans accusing him of being greedy, Collins attempted to make a public statement about piracy. In 2012, Collins made the recordings available to everyone as free MP3 download tracks to fans worldwide.

    Some fans might argue that Metallica was selfish to target Napster for illegally offering their music as MP3s. In all fairness, not everyone victimized by piracy are platinum-selling, wealthy artists in the caliber of Metallica. Paul Collins had just as much right to take legal action, but he turned the negative situation into a positive one by publicly releasing the pirated material as free downloads to his fans. Case in point, not all rock stars are selfish or “only in it for the money.” Musicians have a right to be paid for their intellectual property. 

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  6. This will fail epically! Rule #1 in selling anything is ‘it’s perceived value to the public needs to be seen as reasonable’. As mention 95% of music is downloaded illegally and that’s because public perception of music no longer has monitory value due to the RIAA’s attempt in shutting down Napster some years back which in turn gave rise to other P2P services. The cat is out of the bag so to speak. Efforts by these type of organizations will inevitably be in vain. Instead of fighting change (like this article states) these organizations need to embrace this new paradigm shift and look for other way to capitalize on intellectual property. IE iMusic & iCloud services. Give the music away for free, get paid when it’s actually played. Dinosaurs die as will all efforts in sustaining out dated paradigm’s in all area’s of business.

  7. Whether you like it or not we live in the digital age – copying and sharing digital content like music is UNSTOPPABLE. The sooner you come to terms with that simple fact, the less sleep and adrenaline you will lose. Even if someone invents some super-duper protection scheme and all goverments impose super-duper stringent laws (yeah, right), the copying and sharing will not stop. Someone will come up with a new way of going around the file protection or file sharing obstacles. The most obvious way to deal with the problem is making sure that it’s (much) easier for people to use the original legal files than their copies of different bit rates and quality pulled from some obscure dark place on the internet. Vast majority of music fans wouldn’t mind if for every song they like and keep playing on their iPods phones, cars or any other mp3 players a few cents (not dollars though !) would go to the artist and the team that make the song. So the focus to deal with the problem should be how to make it easier for the fans to shell out a few cents not how to make them pay a few hunderd bucks a year if they want to listen to every song they like.

  8.   You know, I see both sides of the argument here and I’d just like to say that everyone can screw off, because what kind of grown adult seriously entertains the idea of making a respectable income from music?  And if you are one of those fortunate few, then STFU- Because your job is to sit around and make pretty sounds, which you can do in your pajamas.  
      I’ll give a crap what Mr. Burns is planning up on the hill when one of you entitled self-righteous d-bags comes up with a cure for cancer.

    1. It’s probably because most of us actual ‘grown adults’ (as you put it)  – have already matured & come to realize that the ‘real’ chances of becoming ridiculous ‘rock-stars’ (or MTV ‘video-puppets’) are slim to none.

      It’s the young, ‘fresh-out-of-high-schoolers-or-the-over-hyper-college-youth’ that think they can easily pull this off by simply giving away ALL of their music away for ‘FREE’, ultra-cool-looks, and then make loads of actual money by simply ‘touring’ and selling silly gimmicks such as ‘t-shirts’, ‘pimple-creams’, and toilet-paper with their bands ‘logos’ on them for living. These are also the same idiots who believe that ‘stealing’ others music for ‘free’, (or downloading for free) is totally justifiable & ‘fair’ as well. 

      So even though their might be a select ‘few’ of some ‘older adults musicians’ out there still – and who subscribe to these same ridiculous morals & ethics – please DO NOT include the rest of us older generations who still believe that music is still for ‘sell’, (legally) and that they can still also make a VERY decent living in producing, recording, and selling music. 

      (just because ‘you’ personally haven’t been able to make a ‘respectable’ income from your music – doesn’t give you the right to refer to the rest of us as ‘self-rightous douche bags’ who in fact,  HAVE been able to make very decent profits in doing so with our music.) 

      (and by the way, just in case you’re interested or at least to prove your theory ‘wrong’ – I personally made right at $268,000 last year alone, by selling my latest album – and that was accomplished by doing NO TOURING whatsoever, nor selling a single, silly ‘T-shirt’.)

      ………so up yours 🙂

  9. You guys who keep claiming this crap such as, “the music that you wrote & created on your very own, does NOT belong to you” and/or “pirating music is a god-given ‘right’ & everyone should be allowed to take or download whatever music they wish to, simply because my band & myself personally don’t have a problem with it, so neither should you” – are complete fucking idiots – period. 

    You’re also the same brain-dead idiots that claim crap such as, “pirating music doesn’t bother me or my band because we’re simply gonna make ALL of our money by packing all of our gear into a beat-up volkswagen van and set-out for our MAJOR ‘world-tour’, selling-out all local arenas & football stadiums, while also selling truckloads of our really cool ‘merchandise’ on a nightly basis!!”………(again, you’re simply complete fucking idiots.)

    Where in the hell do you guys even get these ridiculous, half-ass ideas & money stats from anyway?

    What ‘tours’?  What ‘merchandise’?

    You honestly think that you’re all going to make BOATLOADS of money by playing small clubs, cheap bars & high-school proms, etc? You’ve GOT to be kidding me?  (and what about the ‘costs’ of this so-called touring? – food, gas, hotel rooms, equipment, parts, booking costs, management, advertising, etc, etc, etc  – where does all of that initial money come from?) 

    And again, ‘what merchandise’?? (first off, YOU have to be able to pay for this merchandise to begin with, and really this so-called ‘merchandise’ you speak of is basically just a box of cheap t-shirts, that you’ll be lucky to even sell 1-2 per show.)

    So again,  – Where’s ALL of this ‘mega-money’ that you talk about by simply doing nothing but ‘touring’ & selling ‘merchandise’??

    You guys KEEP talking this same old shit, over & over again – while at the same time, ‘justifying’ the fact that ALL music piracy & illegal downloading is completely ‘OK’ and by all means is simply ‘no big deal’ & nothing to worry about.

    Here’s a thought:  If YOU wish to make YOUR music or YOUR bands music completely ‘FREE’ and available to the public 24/7 – than ‘so be it’  – but QUIT speaking for the rest of us who wish for our music NOT to be ‘FREE’ & publicly available – we have that same ‘right’ just as well. 

    Not ALL of us are fresh out of high-school, eager to ‘tour’, and plan on making a rich living by selling t-shirts & bobble-head dolls. Not ALL of us want our music to just be given away for ‘free’ to anyone who sits on their ass and combs the internet all day long. 

    To me, the answer is pretty simple: allow EACH artist to make that decision for themselves – period. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong about an artist who chooses to ‘charge money’ for their music to be downloaded & protected – absolutely NOTHING wrong. 

    How is it ANY different from say a sculptor who charges money for a statue? Or a painter who wishes to sell his or her own paintings? Or any other kind of ‘artist’ for that matter? How? (what, just because you can’t ‘touch’, ‘hold’, or ‘see’ music – means that it’s ‘OK’ for anyone to just come along & take it for ‘free’? Are you serious?)

    The only musicians or ‘artists’ who really make decent money off touring & selling merchandise are the ‘handful’  of artists out there who are already ‘HUGE’ and VERY successful worldwide (U2, Coldplay, Madonna, Lady Gaga, etc) – NOT ‘your’ little local band that recorded an album in one day inside a dorm room. Get that through your damn heads already and quit speaking for the rest of us who live in the real world. Record sales have ALWAYS been  a MAJOR source (if not the ‘main’ source) of income for artists since the beginning of time – and especially ‘NOW’, if more than ever! But if you think for a moment that by simply ‘giving away’ all of your music for ‘free’ is going to thrust you to the top of the charts and then you’ll make your living by raking in all of the ‘real cash’ by playing random clubs & selling clothes – then you obviously have NOT been on the road before, nor have you put any real ‘thought’ behind this brilliant career plan of yours.

    Re-think your plan, quit reading useless stats, quit bitching about your so-called ‘human-rights’ to ‘free-music’, and PLEASE stop speaking for the rest of us who wish to protect & sell our own damn songs.

    1. I would be happy to respect your right to charge for mp3’s by not ever listening to anything that you release.  Based on how out of touch you appear to be, I feel pretty confident that your music won’t have much to offer me either. 

      And not everyone who feels this way is right out of high-school, eager to tour, or expecting to make a lot of money from music.  Some of us have removed money from the equation- that’s what work is for.  Music minus Money = purified art = love.   

      1. Yeah, I’m just COMPLETELY ‘out of touch’ with reason (and this coming from an idiot like yourself who actually says things like, “music-minus-money=purified art=love”……(yeah, you’re just a regular Socrates aren’t you?)

        I could also give 2 shits wether or not you listen to my music anyway. Besides that (and if you’ll take those peace-loving-flower-weeds out of your ears for minute) it appears that you completely missed the main point that myself and others on here are trying to say – ‘every single artist/musician should have the right to charge others money for their music – period – NOT the other way around, where just anybody can come along & download it for ‘free’.”

        Why is that so hard for you to understand and/or accept? 

        If ‘YOU’ wish to give away every single song YOU ever wrote to everyone in the world – FINE, then do it! that’s YOUR right for YOUR music – but  to say ‘everyone has the right to download any & all music for ‘free’, is just plain ludicrous. What gives ‘you’ or anyone else for that matter ‘the right’ to just take or download anyone else’s music for ‘free’? Instead of waisting your time bashing me or my work (especially when you’ve not even heard a single damn song of mine) – why don’t you try instead to ‘explain’ what gives YOU that right to steal whatever music you want, whenever you want? And while you’re at it, try explaining just ‘how’ musicians will make all of their money by simply touring & selling merchandise? Explain how musicians (who actually try & make a living out of music) can still make that living by ‘removing all money from music’ in order to make ‘purified art’ & ‘love’?

        You try to put everyone else down for wanting or wishing to make a living out of playing or recording music – and that by doing so, it suddenly makes music ‘artificial’ or simply ‘not as cool’ as yours? Well here’s a newsflash for ya – people have been making careers & livings from making and selling music for CENTURIES now, and a lot of it has been pretty damn good music at that. But you seem to think that anyone or everyone that wishes to sell their songs for a modest profit, automatically becomes a ‘sellout’, or that their music now ‘sucks’ because of doing so. Face it, the only reason that you’re able to ‘eat’ (as you put it) while giving away all of your music for ‘free’  – is simply because you’re NOT one of the ones who are actually trying to make a regular living or career out of it – and you probably have another ‘day-job’ that pays the bills. If that’s what YOU ‘want’ out of music, then great! That’s YOUR choice. But quit trying to tell everyone else what THEY should do with their songs or careers, and/or make it out like you’re particular musical career is way ‘cooler’ than most others and doing just ‘fine’ because you allow everyone to download your music for ‘free’. (give me a break.)

        Seriously, try explaining some of these issues, that apparently you’ve got ALL figured out with your perfect, purified ‘love music’. 

        In none of your other posts do you actually ‘make a point’, or even dare ‘try’ to explain on just ‘how’ your brilliant plan is supposed to work. You either just continually agree with someone by saying, ‘preach it bro’ – or make ridiculous, ‘philosophic’ comments that honestly don’t even mean a damn thing. 

        ‘Howard Byrne’ above, makes a great point by stating that ‘streaming’ is a free, ‘temporary listen’ for the listener, and that ‘downloading’ is music that becomes a permanent part of the listener’s property, thus each listener can make his or her own decision wether or not to actually pay for it.’  – yet, all you can say is crap like “Howard, get out of your house more often” – and “due to the music piracy that’s occurred over the last ten years, music has now become FAR more prolific in the entire history of music”…………..

        (seriously, are you honestly that big of a dumb-shit, or were you just born this way?)

        I know FAR too many great bands & artists that have had to basically ‘retire’ or force to quit the music business all together, simply because they could no longer make an honest living by selling their records to the masses anymore, mainly due to so many people ‘stealing’ it or pirating it off the internet constantly. (and, ‘yes’ – they once made VERY comfortable livings by doing nothing more than just selling albums.) Again, not everyone can ‘tour’ or even ‘afford’ to tour anymore. And for those who can’t tour, would just make their livings by selling records. That’s ‘why’ so many artists are now complaining about today’s music piracy. To give out some ‘free’ samples here & there (and by ‘their’ choice’, not ‘yours’) could in fact ‘possibly’ help sell more records – but NOT by giving out every single song or album they ever make away for ‘FREE’, every time. Especially when people are hacking, stealing, or downloading everything they can get their hands on. How can you honestly justify crap like that? Just because ‘you’ do it – so should everyone else? 

        Again, if you want to give all of YOUR music away for ‘free’ – then YOU have every right under the sun to do such – but do NOT preach about how ‘all’ music in general should be ‘free’ for the public taking and that music consumers have every right in the world to download & steal whatever the wish to. Who the hell are ‘you’ anyway to tell anyone else what they should do with their music, or what it’s actually worth? 

  10.  Midwest Independent Records & myself whole heartedly support Lion Music’s stance on this issue. As a ceo & artist, with many friends in this “biz”, things must change soon, or there won’t be any great new albums for anyone to enjoy. Only fond memories of the past! If we’re to survive, it’s gonna be up to the fans to support the artist, or let the music die. The choice is yours. Choose wisely!

  11. There seems to be some conflicting issues with Alex Jacob’s opinions.  There is a difference between illegal downloading and listening to music streams.  But, Mr. Jacobs, the RIAA and IFPI seem to think they are one in the same.  They are not!  I can also tell that Mr. Jacobs (from his picture) wasn’t even in diapers when the radio industry deregulated and started their downward spiral in the mid-1980’s.

    There was a time when a band or artist wanted to get their music heard on the radio.  There was a time when disc jockeys programmed the music on their own shows at radio stations.  Then payola crept in.  When payola became illegal, the largest record labels discovered a way around the law.  They sent promotional singles and albums to radio stations to flood their programming. With all that music being sent to the stations, DJ’s became lazy and just played what music was sent to them instead of searching for new music.  Record labels reported their “white page” plays, and all the rest of the stations followed trends in popular music (thanks to the laziness of radio stations putting more faith in lazy “white paper” reading consultants than their own DJ’s).  Of course, DJ’s (then Program Directors) became reliant on being spoon-fed by the major record labels, and forced by management to listen to consultants.  And, the record labels kept greasing the wheels of this business model by giving the radio station free concert tickets and other goodies for promotional use.  For the band or artist, it still came down to one idea:  When people hear music, they might want to buy it and pay to see a concert.  Air-play equals promotion!

    With A&R departments at the major labels washed up today, the labels rely on tracking the number of hits a band receives on a social media page, iTunes, or the next reality t.v. show winner.  That’s research!  Most radio stations don’t play new music anymore.  So, the majority of new music to be discovered is through internet streaming sites.  2 years ago, the major labels made sure that their new business model would succeed.  They used the RIAA and IFPI to convince governments that independent internet streaming sites need to get the permission from the copyright owner before their music could be played.  This was never a rule in over-the-air radio (and still isn’t).  This blurring of illegal downloading vs. streaming convinced legislators that they could do something to stop piracy.  What it did was create another monopoly for the major record labels to let the largest streaming sites (ie:Spotify) play their stable of artists.  Essentially, unless an independent artist pays for play on the large streaming sites, their music won’t get played.  And, even if they do pay, their music rotation in the stream will take a back seat to the artists owned by the major record labels.  Air-play equals promotion equals purchases on iTunes.

    Ask yourself: How will potential new fans find your music?  How many internet radio stations will seek you out and give your music some free promotion?  Why should those internet radio stations have to pay to give you free promotion?  Do you really think the RIAA and IFPI are collecting for you if you are an independent artist not signed to a major label?  How easy is it for you to get your CD into a big box store – now that most of the independent music stores have closed their doors (Again, because the major labels would sell their roster of CD’s to box stores at a fraction of the price than they would sell them to the indie stores.)?

    The playing field was just about level for a very short time (a few years ago).  Yes, MySpace was king.  And, people actually used it and could discover new bands everywhere!  In comparison, how many people can find you on Facebook now?  Did they have to hear you someplace else first?  The music industry is being taken over by the majors again.  What are you going to do about it?  Support indie internet streaming sites by giving them permission to play your music…without the expectation of compensation from them. (Most of them are volunteer DJ’s playing music for the love of it…on internet sites that aren’t making a dime.  They are your new radio stations.  They are your free promotional tool.  Embrace them.  Don’t pay for play.

  12. Read… ‘Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music’ by Greg Kot…he nails the issues dead on the head. Has anyone here actually read the My band released our first disc in ’99 (after some previous cassette releases) and I was horrified when one of our best fraternity clients put it on Napster…..even our investor thought it was a good idea. Today I know he was right. Just like Radiohead didn’t end their career by giving away the first free digital release download by a major artist….the vehicles of promotion have changed, the real product of music is the live experience, thats why after all of the radio play and repackaged best-of and boxed sets, the Stones, Aerosmith and U2 still sell out stadiums – music is more than a plastic disc. Ask Dave Matthews about how live bootlegs of his material increase merch and ticket sales…..The IFPI is just a tool of the industry. Don’t be fooled.

  13. I buy most of my music on Amazon’s MP3 downloads. How do they know if I am downloading a track I payed for, or a track from somewhere else without monitoring EVERYTHING I do? I believe that while it is wrong to steal music, it is also wrong for the RIAA to have the goverment make my ISP invade my privacy. I stream Netflix movies, HULU shows, buy Kindle ebooks, purchased Amazon MP3s so yes, I do consume quite a bit of bandwidth. That is not an indicator of illegal activity on my part. The day they start watching me to that level is the day I cancel my ISP subscription, and the day Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon MP3 downloads loose a customer because without a broadband connection I will not be doing any of this. The artist and the greedy label stands to loose money because i’m sure that I am not the only one. I have bought over 30 CD’s and more than 100 loose tracks this year alone. That works out to more than a CD a week my friend.

  14. don’t producers get paid up front and if they don’t why not? when I buy almost any product the production cost is built in to the cost of goods, why is this business so different, why does there have to be a never ending residual?  to say- so they can afford to develop and continue to record new artists is a laugh, labels quit doing that way before the digital age, it’s all about money and it’s hard to buy into keeping the creative process going or any involvement in the creative process when share holders are the bottom line, when I buy a bottle of water drink it and refill it with water I really don’t feel like I owe again even if I give it someone else   like most corporate functions it’s greed and now they trying to find ways to make up for lost revenue because they really don’t seem to be meeting the supply and demand concept- put something out people are willing to buy

  15. Greeting, and thanks for the info, but it a little to late.
    Well it is a noble thing to protect artist but in the end they will pay for it anyway.
    I anticipate the day when indie get’s it’s footing because the record label has really
    screwed artist all over the world and people know about those contracts. When I hear
    about a person wanting to sign with a record label than I know that he doesn’t  full understand.

    Just google “singers who filed bankrupcy” and you will caught my drift.

    Someone beit a group or what help you make over $50 billion than you
    should do something to give them their credit.

    Also, I believe that they should have transparancy in which the public
    can see the books on where all of the money go and how it will be collected.


  16. How many people pay for porn?  The recording industry has changed dramatically.  You can shut down Limewire, but there’s always going to be another way.  I find much of this interview to be pining for a past that will never come again.  One figure I believe to be misleading is the “95% of downloaded music is illegal” statistic.  Who owned 500GB of music before downloading?  We have more music than we used to.  As a musician, I think that’s a good thing.  Also, not everyone who downloads music is a consumer.  DJs have to pay for the music, pay royalty fees and they should be getting it for free considering they help promote record sales.  Music teachers are covered by “Fair Use”, but that doesn’t stop the record labels from going after Music History Professors for giving out burned CDs of Gregorian Chant to their students.  Mr. Jacob needs to remember that the whole Napster thing started because consumers were tired of paying $15-20 for a CD just to hear 1 or 2 songs off of it.  The M.B.A.s in charge got greedy and look what happened.  It’s the same thing that happened with the housing industry.  So, don’t blame us, you should’ve seen this coming.  The black eyed peas, second album, “Bridging the Gap”, despite it’s underground popularity was a bust in sales because it came out at the same time as Napster.  They were pissed but, instead of pouting like children, they moved on and became worldwide superstars anyway.  It’s not killing the business.  It’s killing the cash cow.  The people who were making the most money before downloading were not the artists or the producers, or the songwriters.  Look how happy Justin Timberlake was to play Sean Parker and essentially champion the cause.  

    @87d0fe446e64e21d34f9de0cb8d6b630:disqus I’m a songwriter.  I get it, it sucks.  If you’re a Capitalist, which I am not, you believe that the demand decides the market value of any product.  The market has made it’s decision.  Now, we have to figure out how to live with it.  Most of the songs downloaded are popular hits or classics.  They’ve already made money.  If you’re an Indy artist and tens of thousands of people downloaded your music for free, congrats, you’re now famous.  Your next album will do very well on iTunes.  Whether it’s fair or not, that’s the way it is and it’s going to stay that way.  Play the hand you were dealt.

    @Stexonlegs:disqus is 100% right.  Like it or not, that’s the way it is.

  17. It’s very telling when you look at who they are representing, “the group that represents the interests of the major (and other) labels,
    distributors, and producers in the music industry…” You certainly don’t see anything about artists do you? It’s because they don’t care about the creative people that make the music just the dollars they can rip off from them. 

  18. Very well written argument for the industry. From an artists viewpoint, I am flattered if people want to steal my music. If it is being heard and distributed it can only do me good. The only ones these kind of rules benefit are the ones already raking in all the money. Don’t try to tell me it’s for my own good, that kind of rhetoric doesn’t cut it anymore.

  19. Dear Stexonlegs,

    I think you are missing the point here. The fact is that I, as a music composer and producer of my own music, OWN the material. If I reached into the back of your car and stole 10 or a hundred CDs and you saw me do it, wouldn’t you try to stop me? I would be stealing money from you and your family. Theft is theft and should be prosecuted. This entitlement mentality that people have some vague undefined right to acquire intellectual property without paying for it is getting really old. If I find people using my material without a license or without paying for it, I will prosecute them and sue them in civil court for as much as I can get. I offer free LISTENING on my website to any and all visitors but if they reproduce the material without my consent, they are criminals.You are correct that a lot of artists make more money from performing live and selling their merchandise at their gigs. I work exclusively in a studio domain and do not tour anymore. So are you saying I should just let people rip me off because I am not in the exclusive “touring musician’s club”? That is B.S. and you should know that. As of this moment, if I google my name I will find hundreds of sites dedicated to ripping me off by offering pirated copies of my music that NO ONE payed me for.The government has the digital technology to “Fingerprint” original works and then “crawl” the web looking for illegal pirated copies. It would be as simple as getting Google to do it with their web crawlers. If the music industry contributed to the cost of doing that, everyone would win, including you. It should be implemented immediately and any ISP should be fined heavily for trafficking in stolen items. Just because it is on the so-called FREE internet doesn’t mean it isn’t a crime.

    1. Intellectual property is a silly idea, actually property and crime in general are ridiculous ideas.
      If someone came up with a similar idea as you two years later, and it
      sounded better than yours, and you ADMITTED it, would you still be
      butthurt about it and claim it’s YOUR property? Fact is it ISN’T, it’s
      your expression of an idea you had, which lots of other people have had
      and expressed (some without ever knowing your work existed), which you can’t
      control or actually own. And people pirating are not reproducing your work, they are SHARING it. I mentioned in my own comment on this article that pirating music is like lending your friend a book- are you gonna sue for that too? If you work
      in a studio you can charge people to be recorded by you, and if you
      don’t record other performers then you have other options. People still
      buy music on iTunes, and people will donate money to you if you give them the abilitiy. There are packs of indie games where you can pay what you
      want for five or so games and people who understand and fully support
      the idea will shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars. You can sell your music to companies to use in advertisements. You can (god forbid) sell your music in a different format that provides some other piece of art that you CAN’T download and will therefore be worth the money you’re going to charge for it. Just because
      you did the work doesn’t mean someone HAS to give you x amount of money if they
      think your product is shit. And they should know first and only give you money if they really think you deserve it.Also, the piracy issue isn’t something that can be controlled- it’s going to happen regardless. This is one way the industry’s changing and you have to accept it and, instead of trying to force everyone to adopt your selfish mindset, find a different way to profit if money means THAT much to you.

      1. Only problem with your opinion is that people won’t pay for shit.  So, why would they want it anyway?  Obviously, the music we are talking about is music that people want.  Do you actually like to listen to shit?  I don’t.  There is a difference between hearing those songs that you want to listen to for free while it is streaming on the internet versus downloading it into your computer or mp3 player  where it becomes a part of your personal property.  Streaming is the artist sharing it with you for a temporary listen.  Downloading is the music becoming a part of your property – permanently.  If you want a song to become a part of your personal property, the artist has the right to ask you to pay for it.  And, you have the right to decide whether owning the song in your library is worth the price tag.

        I can share a book or a CD with someone.  There is still only one book or CD being shared.  If I ask for the book or CD back, you don’t have it in your possession anymore.  But, you are talking about replicating as if it is sharing. There is a difference.  If you lend your friend a book, you lose your book until he/she returns it.  It is one book.  Pirating is reproducing.  It is making multiple copies.

        1. Howard, perhaps you should get out now and again.  Vinyl sales are up 55% so far in the UK this year and 41% in the US, the only physical medium that has increased in sales in….well a while.  Here’s an interesting quote from Kim Bayley, the Director General of the Entertainment Retailers Association:

          “Vinyl may still be a niche format, but it is growing fast. Whether it
          is the “warmer” sound many music fans appreciate, the large-scale
          artwork of a 12” sleeve or its sheer retro appeal, vinyl seems to be
          capturing the imagination of buyers despite the fact it typically costs
          twice as much as a CD containing exactly the same music…Much of the
          focus in the music industry has been on cutting prices, partly in
          response to the rise of internet piracy. The success of vinyl shows
          music buyers will pay a premium if we deliver them a package they really

          So it turns out that not only will people “pay for shit”, but they’ll pay a hefty premium for good shit. 

          I find it to be unfortunate that we live in a culture where entitled artists are so consumed by what money they can squeeze out of the art they create that they spend their time complaining about it on the internet through thousand dollar computers (ironic?), rather than creating from a genuine place and offering a piece of themselves to a community.  By the way, has anyone else noticed that the last 10 years (the heyday of internet “piracy”) has been the most prolific, creative revolution in recent music history?  The ’60s and ’70s haveth not shit on the ’00s. 

          Challah bread ya’ll.      

    2. “If I reached into the back of your car and stole 10 or a hundred CDs and you saw me do it, wouldn’t you try to stop me?”

      You do know there is a difference between physical theft and copyright infringement right?

    3. I hate to bring it to you my friend, but the stealing of music is not going to stop. That’s simply how it is. Morality & idealogy aren’t going to stop the flood, neither are big money corps. I’m not saying it is right to steal music, but if you don’t accept this and move on you are going to go insane.

      If anyone should be fined for these acts it should be the ones who initially make it available, not those who are downloading it. The irony is that most leaks etc come from the labels themselves…one word- interns.

      Touring, merchandise, and licensing/scoring etc. are the ONLY ways to make a few cents from music. The thought of a real career in music today is just ignorant.

      I’ve been on many sides of the music business- labels, promotion, recording, touring etc. so I’m not just some idiot with an opinion.
      By the way, streaming online is yet another easy way for someone to steal your music.

      Cds are dead. Vinyl is back. Licensing is great.

    4. Dude, you are right on EVERY point. I told people 10 years ago that piracy would be the death of variety and creativity in this industry. As the creator, the artist deserves payment. Every time. I love your point about touring. I’ve heard the same from people for years…’oh, it’s okay. They make they’re money from touring.’ Well, I don’t tour. So…..and your excellent point. I’ve found (ironically) that fellow musicians are the worst pirates. Makes no sense.

    5. You said “If I reached into the back of your car and stole 10 or a hundred CDs and you saw me do it, wouldn’t you try to stop me?” Sure. That’s a tangible product that has an incremental cost, and I can’t replace them without spending more money. I can’t sell the 10 CD you stole. However, if someone “steals” 10 mp3, it doesn’t prevent you or me from selling 10 mp3s. We are not out a physical loss. We’re out a conceptual one. Mp3s don’t really exist, as a physical product anyway. The only reason the record industry came into existence is because they could control physical product inventory and distribution. Digitization of media and low cost bandwidth made physical product inventory unneeded and distribution cost practically nil. Now anybody can do it. Independent artists do it with their own material, and pirates pirate. There are many, many independent musicians and songwriters that make a very comfortable living outside the big label food chain and that scares the hell out of the labels business model. The days of replicating physical copies of media and restricting when, where, and for how much they can be sold are gone. The days of sitting back and making money from replicating a product for pennies a unit and over charging for it because they controlled inventory and distribution are over. Indy artists don’t make a real living selling “copies” of their songs. They make it from having a fan base of a few thousand fans willing to spend $15-50 a year on connecting with and experiencing the artist, whether at shows, personalized merch, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and other aspects of what makes the artist an artist and a human. The intangibility of digital media made it worthless as a product to sell. However, big record labels are still very good at one thing. They know how to market and expose local and regional artists to a larger, even worldwide audience. If major labels spent more time finding local and regional artists that had that “it” factor, used their power and experience in promotion and marketing to get the artist exposure, and went into a fair and equitable joint business venture with the artist in a 360 deal instead of a “never able to recoup one-sided record deal,” they would regain their luster. The big lables need to understand that making money from artists now revolve around the social and connectedness aspect of the artists and their fans wanting to be part of that experience. Revenue is not going to come from the sale of recorded music to individuals anymore. Recorded music has become the loss leader for the artist to create a connection to the fan, and then monetize that connection.
      Read more: Music
      Piracy: A music industry insider talks illegal downloads, new laws, and
      10 billion iTunes downloads | Echoes – Insight for Independent Artists

      1. First off, what ‘experience’ are you talking about? I don’t see how you expect an artist to make a living off ‘Facebook’ & ‘Twitter’ posts. Nor do I see them making ‘comfortable’ livings off selling ‘T-shirts’ either (not to mention that these things really don’t even have anything to do with an artists actual ‘music’ to begin with.) Plus, you’re still dealing with a ‘physical item’ that requires ‘up-front’ money from the artist to start with – not to mention that things like ‘T-shirts’ & ‘Twitter’ posts are mostly consumed by ‘young, teenage’ audiences anyway, which certainly does NOT apply to so many ‘other’ types of music within the industry. You then mention the ‘live’ factor again, which (as usual) only applies to certain types of music, younger bands, etc. You’re still not thinking about the ‘entire range’ of music or ‘all’ types of musicians, bands, or artists that are out there. Not everyone can tour, wishes to tour, are able to tour, can afford to tour, etc, etc. So when you take away these things – ‘how’ exactly are artists suppose to make money or a living? Especially if they can’t even sell their own records!?

        And there still lies the main problem: You’re ‘plan’ really only applies or benefits a few certain types of artists out there. You’re not including or thinking about a lot of other types of musicians or artists out there, where things like ‘touring’ & ‘T-shirts’ don’t even apply. 

        And besides that, when you say ‘recorded music is dead and is no longer a means of making any money for an artist’ – sorry, but that is COMPLETELY inaccurate & untrue. 

        People are still selling Vinyl records at large (even Rolling Stone magazine reported that Vinyl sales are now higher than over the past 2 1/2 decades COMBINED, and still climbing.) Not to mention that when a song is ‘legally’ downloaded (not stolen) – an artist can still make on average about 70-80 cents (sometimes even the whole $1)  – or even close to 10$ per album. I’m sorry, but if your music is good enough or consumers really like it & wish to purchase it – then an artist can make a very decent living off record sales, alone. Artists have been doing this for many decades now – and should STILL be able to do so for decade to come. 

        The technology will always be out there to help ‘secure’ & prevent the masses from ‘stealing’  an artists music. We should be ‘encouraging’ these technologies – NOT rejecting them, or tossing them to the side, simply because you say, “pirates will always find a way.” Maybe part of the problem is folks such as yourself who keep ‘giving in’ (or ‘giving up’) and simply think that the idea of possibly making a profit off selling one’s music (legally) is a waste of time. Just because an MP3 is ‘invisible’ and you can’t physically ‘hold’ or ‘touch’ it – does NOT mean that it doesn’t exist, or originally belonged to the artist who created it in the first place. That’s ridiculous to even say such a comment like that to begin with. 

        Are you also saying that, ‘photographers’ for instance – should just start giving away ALL of their photographs now as well? I mean, they’re ‘digital’. You can’t actually ‘hold them’. And they really didn’t ‘cost’ anything for the photographer to make. Therefore, according to your principles listed above – all people who enjoy photographs should be able to download & enjoy ANY and ALL digital photographs that are on the internet, and for ‘FREE’. Photographers have ‘no right’ to charge money for their pictures anymore and should be forced to give away all of their work or art for NO money whatsoever.

        And all because of the simple fact that photographs are now ‘digital’ instead of ‘physical’ – and that photographers ‘should’ be able to make a very comfortable living by simply selling ‘T-shirts’ and ‘tweeting’ about their photographs on Facebook instead. 

        (if they can make the technology to help prevent & stop ‘photographs’ from being illegally downloaded  – then why not ‘music’ as well? After all, they’re BOTH just basic, ‘digital’ files, right? So why not ‘both’?)

        I’m sorry, but your theories & logic about the music industry of today or ‘how’ any artist ‘should’ be able to make a living now – continue to make no sense to me at all, and should highly be reconsidered. 

  20. There’s always the assuption on the part of these record companies that anything you downloaded for free represents a loss to them.  What if I just wanted to listen and would not have if it weren’t free ? If he can pull that 95% statistic out of his ass, then I have no problem saying more than 50% of downloads would not have been purchased if they cost money.

  21. As a composer who mainly operates from his homestudio and who doesn’t intend on going touring, I can only rejoice by hearing news like this. I sincerely hope a system will be created that puts a final stop on illegal downloads, as it directly affects the income of artists worldwide. More now than ever, artists these days operate independantly via distributors like CD Baby. A lot of great music is created thus, without the necessity of big labels (and the creative compromise that often ensues). That is a good thing, a great evolution. But the growing collective idea that digital music tracks are like little candies to be tossed in the public for free is scary.  If we still want to be able to find decent music for ourselves and the generations to come, then we need to realize that artists need to eat.  And since bread is not free, neither should music be.




    1. I give my music away for free and still manage to eat.  Stop music sharing through invasion of privacy and the music community(the real one at least) will still give away audio files because we see the value in having our music heard.  It is nonsense to think that we’re ever going back.  Music as an art form is being purified, my friend.  Embrace it and it will set you free. 

      If anyone wants to legally download some free music, click here-  I own it and proclaim it to be free.  Btw, there is a new record in the works which will be available for free download and purchasable on vinyl, so check back in a month or so if you want to hear more.

  22. I am a musician and I support piracy. I release all my music free online and if consumers want a physical copy they can buy a vinyl which is a significantly more artistic creation than a piece of plastic with tracks on it. Buying ANYTHING is an investment in the creators’ plans for the product and I want anyone giving me money to know what they’re supporting before forcing them to open their wallets. And buying CDs doesn’t help me as much as the Big Five who control the labels. If you like my music buy a vinyl (which will give you more than just the music so your money isn’t wasted) or buy a ticket to see a show and get a t-shirt (which shouldn’t be $40 you asshats). I’LL get the money and not some suit who uses a formula to decide who gets radio play.
    Even with that argument- it ain’t about the money. It’s about the MUSIC. I think it was Chomsky who compared music piracy to lending your friends books, which is how most everyone’s favourite novels were discovered. Impacting someone’s life should be more important than some piece of paper that’s losing its value as we speak. Wise up to the new way of looking at the world.

    1. This comment is refreshing to hear!  Just for that comment alone. I would buy your music. : ) 

       I think that most (decent people chose to download via “Piracy” isn’t to purposely rip off the artist. They just want to hear it first. Then once they are hooked, they buy tickets to shows, merchandise etc and then legally buy the Cd. I personally like to hear the music before i buy not just 15 second clip. Besides its word of mouth that sells the artist not the label.Personally I wonder sometimes if the label is ripping off the artist more than the piracy.  Ps. I agree Vinyl Records are awesome!

  23. My concern is this–How are providors going to tell what is being uploaded or downloaded without totally invading privacy. Not that there is any real privacy, but is the technology there that can tell the difference in what is being downloaded. My wife and I download books from the national library for the blind. Is my provider going to be able to tell that is what I am downloading, because they are legal. I have the right to download form there.

  24. Unfortunately, Sound Exchange only collects money for plays that’s REPORTED to Sound Exchange.  You provide them with all the information about your artists and songs, then Sound Exchange sits backs and waits for plays to be reported.  How stupid is that?  What’s the incentive for the user’s to report plays?  NONE.  So, Sound Exchange pretty much collects only a teeny amount of the money that should be paid.   

    1. To TAROCK MUSIC… people who are reporting to Sound Exchange are paid to listen to the radio as a PAID job.  These people probably make more money than I do — as I’m a struggling musician.  So the incentive you speak of is real to these people who wear the devices and report the plays on the national-radio stations.

  25. This message is to every musician speaking out against file sharing:get your facts straight, and stop regurgitating everything the major label tells you.Anyone still clinging to the cage-format for music is either a middleman or lazy. SquidnecksYou major label suckers make me laughDo you really think your label would come out and say, “Hey we cut your paycheck in half because you’ve got to help pay for the 250 billion copies we give away. Have they mentioned when they cut new releases by 25% sales dropped 4.1% and they blamed it on P2P? Have they mentioned that they responded to that drop by raising the cost of your CD $1 every year? Does that seem like a good business move to you? Or does that smell like fear?Ask yourself what kind of business would cut research and development first? I’ll tell you: the business that’s about to make it’s bed up in a mother fuckin hearse.While Hilary Rosen and the RIAA are trying to convince you that free listeners are a bad thing, those same five labels that pay them are charging you $500,000 to buy you spinsWhile you’re negotiating whether or not the latest Napster pays you 1/3 of a cent per download, Comcast and AOL are turning the information highway into a toll know the end is near when Britney Spears is calling it a moral issuethey’ve positioned you right between their wallets and your fansthey can’t really expect to turn the tide with a few pathetic lawsuitsSo you gotta ask yourself how does one stop a flood? You build a damn.IT’S THE ISPs, IT’S THE ISPs!Comcast will have every last consumer on their kneesstarting with 5.3 million subscribers to cable access high speedthey own the wires, so they can discriminate with bandwidth and queuing feesguaranteed monopoly by the FCC soWe’re standing on the verge of an artistic cleansing of biblical proportions I say bring itwhen the wickedness of big business is great in the earthand it will even try to sell the waters that it’s drowning inmarching two rapperstwo rockerstwo composerstwo programmersonto a pirate shipin a free-market flooduntil businessmen are businessmenand art is art again. Rockthis is not an issue of children not recognizing value in artthis is an issue of children recognizing value-less artgetting artists paid doesn’t even play a partThe truth isfor the first time since it’s creation, the playing field of American musicwas almost leveled, and that, in the opinion of fivebig wallets, is unacceptable.Finally the world was given a voice to respond to the one-sided conversation conductedby the music industry for the last 80 + years. Anyone who tells you that we’ve alwayshad a voice, and it’s in the form of money spent, knows good and well where your moneygoes when there’s only one product on the shelf. You disagree? We can discuss it every four years in NovemberThis already happened but most people weren’t alive or don’t remember. Radio showed up in the 20’s and labels panicked, declared unlicensed broadcasts illegal, and lobbied all sorts of garbage until Capitol Records came along and broke ranks in ’42. When they rose to the top of the pile, the other labels woke up and embraced radio too.we already know how the story ends – the new technology becomes consolidated and sold to one or two old white men.Maybe the RIAA isn’t right, it’s just afraid.Afraid that artists will find a new way to get paidmaybe removing profit from the picture will expose the parasiteswho spent 19 million in campaign donations every year to extend your copyrightswe’ll see who’s still making records when there’s no compensation.if there’s no beer at the party, the only people left will be there for the conversation.Maybe art is only art when it’s depraved.Maybe the deck is so stacked, we need to start from scratch.We’re standing on the verge of an artistic cleansing of biblical proportions I say bring itwhen the wickedness of big business is great in the earthand it will even try to sell the waters that it’s drowning inmarching two rapperstwo rockerstwo composerstwo programmersonto a pirate shipin a free-market floodand though I may soon be swept awayI can’t wait to see who steps in to take my place

    Gavin Castleton – “The Great American Bottleneck”

    1. Oh dude! you truly brought it til the truth hurts! And now for my bit of piracy…

      …Maybe art is only art when it’s depraved…!!!

      I am so gonna steal that line. It is just too good!

      and for the ultimate “proof of concept” encore…

      “everybody knows where the money goes when there is only one product on the shelf. You dissagree? We can discuss it every 4 years in November ! ”

      great post.

      I agree it is high time that all us/you artist better get back to RATM, 60’s rebels type lyrics and “pull back the curtain on the wizzard b4 we are all F’d” beyond recognition”.


  26. There is a legacy of “free” consumption (eg radio) that consumers rely on to screen and select the music they really want to own.  Since radio (at least in the US) no longer fulfills that role, the internet is the next best thing. see “What If Consumers Don’t Value Content” at

  27. I remember when the IFPI removed my own uploads of my own songs from mediafire once under the guise of “protecting my copyrights” – in essence saving me from myself. Bunch of wankers..

  28. I remember when the IFPI removed my own uploads of my own songs from mediafire once under the guise of “protecting my copyrights” – in essence saving me from myself. Bunch of wankers..

  29. Ridiculous. An ESTIMATE of 95%? Based on what? The fact is that Record Companies have had a stranglehold on the industry for years and they are now just refusing to update their business model because they won’t make as much money as they did in the pre-napster days. If they had got on board from the very start instead of reaching for their lawyers then the industry would be in far better shape. I’m disgusted at the UK (the country that I’m mostly proud to be from) would pass a law in the final days of the last government, with many MPs not even turning up for the vote (as I was led to believe). Cutting off people’s internet is a breach of human rights according to the UN and record companies want to take this right away from us because they are scared. People involved with the digital economy bill have admitted that these new laws will not catch the main offenders, just kids and other people who are too careless to mask their IP address (search the internet and you’ll find several ways of doing it easily). So the digital economy bill won’t catch the main culprits and will only penalise people casually downloading. Well done UK. GREAT JOB
    The other thing that annoys me is that people immediately go to the “What about struggling artists?” argument.  Now I AM a struggling artist and to be honest if people are pirating my music then all well and good. For artists the money has always been in touring and the more people that listen to my music, the more people are likely to turn up to my gigs, the more money I receive. If we were to get signed to a record label, and this applies to now as much as the pre napster days, then they would give us an advance to record our album which would have to be paid out of, you guessed it, our royalties from CD sales. So we would actually be better off shelling out the £2000 odd pounds ourselves, releasing the tracks for free on the internet, and make our money back from performing and merchandise. Now granted, I am being slightly hipocritical, we are releasing an EP and making people pay for it but our trade off is that we will release 1 or 2 tracks form the EP for free and hope that people will buy the whole thing. If not, then at least they are hearing our music and in the end, isn’t that what any musician wants?

    1. cutting off people’s internet is a breach of human rights according to the U.N.? Rediculous.The Internet is the new Idiot Box (Television)Everything else you say I agree wit’ though.

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