Artists’ Voices: Online Piracy, Curse or Cure
With a clip before every DVD you rent telling you that online piracy is the same as car-jacking online file sharers’ are displayed in a similar light to hardened criminal’s. But how socially and morally wrong is piracy?
We decided to get some musician’s to share their thoughts on music piracy. The resounding response was that piracy helps them sell live tickets, which is where their real income is.
We spoke with Torsten Kinsella and Lloyd Hanney of God Is an Astronaut, Mary-Kate Geraghty and Jamie Fox of Fight Like Apes, Conor J. O’Brien of Villagers, Industry, Jonas Erik Altberg (Basshunter), Mayer Hawthorne, and Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevan of Infected Mushroom about Piracy (among other things).
MP3 - Low Quality [11:00m]: Download
OGG - High Quality [11:00m]: Download
OGG - Low Quality [11:00m]: Download
Over the last year I’ve interviewed a number of bands, often posing the quesion “What are your views on online piracy?”. While Aslan have clearly pinned their colors to the mast, others aren’t as quick to lash out, some saying that without piracy they would be unable to make money.
Labels and lobby groups have traditionally been the one’s keeping up the anti-piracy pressure. In light of the following comments we wonder, “Is the ongoing anti-piracy fight really just a last stand?”.
First we have Torsten Kinsella and Lloyd Hanney of God Is an Astronaut speaking about their views on piracy.
Lloyd: Between online downloads, illegal downloads, record companies are at a stage where they don’t know really what’s happening aswell, everything’s up in the air at the moment. Over the next few year’s you’ll see some kind of solution coming in.
David: On that, what are your views on online piracy?
Lloyd: At first I was like “We produced this music, it’s our music”, but over time it has turned around. You use your CD’s to promote your music and you try to make money from your live shows.
Torsten: That is really it. I see a lot of debate online, it’s never as black and white as everybody wants to look at it [sic]. When someone takes your music for nothing and put it onto their [iPod], it’s neither right or wrong at this stage, it’s just a fact of life you’ve just got to accept that. I mean, everybody does it, everybody.
Torsten and Lloyd there, sharing their views, that recorded music is an advertising tool, a way to promote their live shows. Next let’s hear from Mary-Kate Geraghty and Jamie Fox of Fight Like Apes on what they have to say about piracy and how they’re using new technology as a band.
Jamie: At the moment we’ve got Spotify which seems to be the fairest to me. It’s a streaming streaming website which looks like it’s going to overtake iTunes in a few years. It’s really cool, money goes into the artists pocket and you can stream anything. At the end of the day, we’re not going to be the ones complaining about not getting enough money, we’re not that cynical about the industry. We’ve grown up in this industry, as opposed to growing up as Metallica, turning around and complaining that the world’s changing, saying “Oh god, my ‘07 Jaguar is the old model”. At the end of the day, any money is a bonus.
David: But this is still your 9-5, so you’ve got to make a living out of this.
Mary-Kate: We’ve talked about this so much, especially since we’ve realised that this is the thing we’re hoping to make money from. We have really quite casual chats about it, anyone who says they haven’t downloaded something illegally is lying, I don’t accept this moral high-ground thing that people take, that’s why I think Spotify is such a good idea, because it’s a way of taking something for free without owning it for free, without pissing anyone else off. I think if someone downloads our album and likes it, they might come to a gig, buy a T-Shirt, and that’s where we might earn money from them downloading something illegally. Someone might listen to it and not like it and that’s fine. When we released our album first we put it on-line, streaming for free for a week. I think that was our way of saying we just want people to hear the music, we’re not going to make our fortune off records, we’re probably never going to make a living off record sales alone, that’s why I don’t really mind. If they like it and download it I don’t really care.
Fight Like Apes are taking control of their cashflow testing a variety of online services to make money.
But more importantly, the want people to hear their music. Conor J. O’Brien of Villagers held a similar view.
David: What do you see the future of the music industry panning out to? In terms of Piracy, New Media, people downloading your stuff? For example, are you pro people downloading your music?
Conor: Yeah, I don’t care, it’s cool. Like, I do it. It’s a really natural progression in the music industry, it’s just a tip in the balance of power. It was always going to happen and now they just have to deal with it. There’s just a lot of grumbles about it, because people are loosing money and stuff, it’s always going to happen. Life’s to short to be worried about that kind of stuff, it’s awesome if people hear your music, I don’t care.
Like Lloyd, Conor also spoke about how the music business is changing.
The aptly named band Industry also spoke about how the music business is still finding [itself] and how a happy medium needs to be discovered.
David: What’s your view on Piracy? I imagine as teenagers you downloaded one or two tracks, but now that you’re on the other side what are your views?
Donal Skeehan: The music industry is changing so much. At the moment the industry is finding itself and the issue with piracy is going to resolve itself. There has to be a happy medium for both artists and people who want to listen to music. It’s going to come with time, the recent case with The Pirate Bay is going to really have an impact on the music business as it is right now. It’s a matter of time I think, but we’d like people to be buying our records.
Lee Hutton: That’s what keeps it going, obviously there needs to be money coming in. But there’s two sides to a story, music does allot for people. And a way to get it is to download it.
Donal: It’s so available at the moment. If you ask a kid whether they’re going to pay or not… Well, it’s a temptation, it’s there: would you not take it?
Irish rock and pop acts are not the only ones who share these views. Jonas Erik Altberg, you may know him as Basshunter, is an artist whos’ Swedish songs often told stories relating to technology, online gaming and internet culture. He told us that his success comes from piracy, without it he would be an unknown artist.
Jonas: You can never stop the download or upload, never. I mean look at me; without the internet and downloads I would be a fart in the wind, It’s true. I think the future is like iTunes, they were the first [to] put out songs for sale very cheap. Some songs, you download 10 versions and it’s just shitty copies. This is like 320Kbps [VBR]. Exactly, everyone follows. So I think that’s the future, you just order things on-line to your laptop and transfer to your iPod. No one uses portable CD players or anything.
David: Will people continue paying for music, do you think?
Jonas: I think people will continue paying for music, yeah. I know [what] it’s like being a student, I’ve never had a job in my entire life, I couldn’t get one, I don’t know why, I tried. I know [what] it’s like, you have very little money to spend. Imagine if there is a new album out by your favourite artist and you cant buy the album for 3 months. Is that going to prevent you from listening to the music? No. Of course I think it’s more than right that this person should download it.
David: I know that as a student I would much rather spend money on a live show, I would much rather buy a ticket to a gig of an artist I like and get the music for free on-line.
Jonas: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
David: This way, hopefully, the artist gets more money. Rather than getting screwed by a label.
Jonas: Basically all artists today, I mean artists in general, their income is from the shows, not the sales. There aren’t many artists today who produce and write their own music, but I do, so I get the whole cookie. As long as you can pay your bills and rent, put food on the table every day, that’s my goal. Everything else is just a bonus. If people like my music and want to listen to my music I don’t care how they get it, as long as they like it and are having fun.
Mayer Hawthorn, a soul musician and multi-instrumentalist, spoke about how artists need to find new ways to generate income.
Mayer: The main thing is that there’s nothing you can do about it. You have two choices, you can either be Metallica and yell at everybody and be pissed off all day, or you can say “Hey, that’s how it goes” and figure out other ways to makes money. That’s the way that I go about it.
David: Hence why you’re touring extensively?
Mayer: Yeah, get on the road and have a good live show and people will respect it.
Moving from soul to Psychedelic trance, I caught up with Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevan of Infected Mushroom. Like Basshunter they spoke extensivly about how online file sharing has helped them, with only worries that their album would leak before its official release.
David: People obviously download your music alot.
David: What are your words to people who do download.
Amit: This has helped us from the beginning. We used to come and play in Mexico for 5-6 thousand people. We never sold a CD over there. They used to download it in Napster, back in the day. This is the main thing that broadcasted Infected Mushroom to the word, illegal downloading. We don’t care about it. We care that you come and pay a ticket to see us.
David: That’s what get’s money.
Amit: That’s the main income [for us], so if you download our music I don’t care. For us, we only care before the album is coming out, we don’t want it to leak. But the album is coming out in one month, in two weeks you’re going to see it leaking on the internet. It’s still unsafe but people are going crazy for Legend of the Black Shawarma, so if it leaks, it leaks. Then if people download it, there’s nothing to do, it’s cool.
So, twelve artists, telling us how piracy is helping them, how live music is how live music is where they make their money, and the new services they’re trying.
With artists supporting piracy we wonder if anti-piracy campaigns make any difference and if the money spent on such campaignes could be put to better use.
Thanks for listening.
So, where does your moral compass point you? If you downloaded an album and liked it, would you then see the band live and buy a t-shirt? Leave your views below.
The audio and text of this show is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY).
This show originally aired on Tuesday February 16th on FlirtFM (101.3MHz, Galway) at 12:45pm.