Thursday, 15 November 2012

Steve Albini On File Sharing And Piracy

Steve Albini:

I reject the term "piracy." It's people listening to music and sharing it with other people, and it's good for musicians because it widens the audience for music. The record industry doesn't like trading music because they see it as lost sales, but that's nonsense. Sales have declined because physical discs are no longer the distribution medium for mass-appeal pop music, and expecting people to treat files as physical objects to be inventoried and bought individually is absurd.

The downtrend in sales has hurt the recording business, obviously, but not us specifically because we never relied on the mainstream record industry for our clientele. Bands are always going to want to record themselves, and there will always be a market among serious music fans for well-made record albums. I'll point to the success of the Chicago label Numero Group as an example.

There won't ever be a mass-market record industry again, and that's fine with me because that industry didn't operate for the benefit of the musicians or the audience, the only classes of people I care about.
Free distribution of music has created a huge growth in the audience for live music performance, where most bands spend most of their time and energy anyway. Ticket prices have risen to the point that even club-level touring bands can earn a middle-class income if they keep their shit together, and every band now has access to a world-wide audience at no cost of acquisition. That's fantastic.

Additionally, places poorly-served by the old-school record business (small or isolate towns, third-world and non-english-speaking countries) now have access to everything instead of a small sampling of music controlled by a hidebound local industry. When my band toured Eastern Europe a couple of years ago we had full houses despite having sold literally no records in most of those countries. Thank you internets.

To summarise:

- File sharing is a very effective and cheap way for bands to get their music heard. In fact it can be more effective than large record companies who demand ridiculous sums of money from the artists.

- Distribution of music has created a huge growth in the attendance of live performances which is where bands work the hardest and make most of their money anyway.

- The reason that the major record companies are experiencing an economic downfall that they will likely never recover from is because of their reluctance to utilise file sharing, they are so afraid of piracy that they pose strict rules and regulations on the sale of music online because they are terrified of losing profits.

- Asking people to treat music files like physical objects to be sold the same way that CD's and vinyl are sold is ridiculous and is simply not going to happen.

- It makes much more sense for an artist to manage their own careear rather than depend on record companies, distributors, promoters etc because those individuals are trying to squeeze as much use and money out of the artist as possible and cares more about making a profit than making music heard and treating their artists fairly. With advances in technology it is perfectly feasible and effective for a band to record and distribute their own music and make a good profit off of it, they can even sell their music for free, something that a major record label would never allow because it wouldn't make them any profits.

- No matter how popular file sharing becomes their will always be a large market of "music nerds" who will want to buy physical records for their collectability and simply because it feels more satisfying to own a record, it feels like your property that you own rather than a file that you downloaded which feels much more artificial and un-organic.

1 comment:

  1. - Good points to back up your arguments.
    - Include more web links (YouTube links & Articles