Recently Lily Allen made a Myspace blog post in which she talks about file-sharing and its effects on upcoming artists. Her remarks were provoked by this article which quotes Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) and Ed O’Brien (Radiohead), both members of the Featured Artists Coalition. Matt Bellamy from Muse agreed with her so much that he had to write her an email to tell her just how fucking much he agreed.
“You don’t start out in music with the Ferraris,” says Lily. “Instead you get a huge debt from your record company, which you spend years working your arse off to repay.”
What Lily fails to realise here, as you dear readers of this independent music site will know, is that there are many ways to get your music heard. According to Lily Allen the first step in a burgeoning musical career is to go straight to the record company and ask for a deal. For proof that this is not necessary, please go to musicfeeds.com.au and type ‘music’ into the search box. Besides Lily’s quaint and outmoded views on the music industry, there is also the small matter of her own piratical endeavours. Ah Lily, when writing about copyright it helps not to steal your text from a popular website. Lily has since made another post, where she claims “it was quite ovious(sic) that I wasn’t trying to pass off those words as my own.” Obvious, eh?
You can find her new blog here. At the top is a post from some band nobody has heard of called Sirens. They moan and wail about their single not achieving commercial success, blaming 20,000 illegal downloads for 20,000 lost sales. This is such a stupid idea, it needs to be stopped here.
If a supermarket is giving away free samples of, say, cheese, each sample given away does not equal a lost cheese sale. Indeed, the opposite applies. Giving away free samples leads to higher sales of the product. This is not a perfectly analogous situation, but it suits well enough. I have thousands of mp3s, I listen to hundreds of them and I would probably buy tens of them. How could anyone possibly buy every piece of music they liked? I remember having hundreds of taped copies of albums back in the day. Who is rich enough to buy every piece of music they enjoy? I can’t count the number of times I’ve downloaded an album, enjoyed it, then paid money to see the band or DJ live. A downloaded album is not a lost sale, it is a potential new fan.
Things have changed. The world needs to get this through its collective skull. Anything that can be replicated through various data systems will be replicated. Music, movies, TV, books, all are available on the internet and will remain so. If they lock down the private nets then people will develop public nets accessible with simple hardware. In urban situations it should be simple to set up wireless networks using transceivers that form the network nodes themselves. No one can stop the information revolution. The choices are clear – ride the wave or be smashed against the seafloor, pulverised to dust along with the rest of the dead rock.
Information wants to be free and it will be free. The question is not “how do we get everything back the way it was?”, the question is “how do we reshape our society to deal with the way things are?”