Stop Stealing Music: A Musicians Perspective
Band Photo: Autumns Eyes (?)
It's a strong misconception that musicians in the limelight are financially stable, and have more money than they know what to do with. Granted this may be true for your GaGa's and Green Day's of the world, but not with independent artists such as myself. Independent musicians actually strive to be successful financially, and use their talents to make a paycheck just like anyone else in the working world. There's only one problem, well actually several problems. I'm speaking of course about all the greedy selfish bums who pirate and steal music.
I used to be one of them, and I'm ashamed to admit it. I downloaded hordes of music in the past, and never thought twice about doing so. It wasn't until I began selling my own music when I realized what a shameful display of greed this epidemic has become.
When I started recording music under the name Autumns Eyes, I had no intentions of promoting or selling my creations. Several years passed by with only a small group of friends hearing what I'd recorded. It wasn't until a couple years ago that I got into promoting what I do in hopes of sharing it with the masses.
At first, I gave away all my material for free via downloads on the Autumns Eyes website. I even surpassed 10,000 album downloads in the first year doing so. Years later, I decided to sell one of my albums on iTunes to see if I could in fact make any money here. Not because I was greedy and wanted to be rich, but because just like everyone else, I had bills to pay.
The first album I sold on iTunes did moderately well, and sold a few copies here and there. The next release I did was again given away free of charge, and did significantly better in download numbers than the album I previously sold on iTunes.
I wondered if perhaps the quality of the recordings and songs had something to do with this. After all, the prior albums were recorded with cheap equipment on a much quicker and spontaneous time frame. So I made sure to put everything I had into my next album. I spent years writing and recording the newest release, and pushed through stressful road blocks along the way such as having multiple surgeries on my wrist. Nothing short of getting hit by a truck could have stopped me from putting everything I had into my work.
The time came to release my new album, and the debut went very well. Days went by and sales were growing. Then, out of nowhere, I suddenly noticed a huge drop in sales. I did a Google search for my new album and found a handful of sites giving my new album away for free. I immediately calmed my angry nerves, and began to file Digital Millennium Copyright Act claims against the sites which were illegally giving away my material. My content was then removed, and the sites were shut down soon after.
I ended up setting a Google Alert for the title of my new album, which in turn would send me an email every time the title would appear in Google's search results. I was completely stunned by the results. Multiple sites were now giving away what I spent years of hard work on, for free. The illegal activity was spreading like wildfire. So much that I couldn't keep up with all the illegal sites popping up. For every site I reported, ten more would take its place.
It made me sick to my stomach, and I couldn't wrap my head around why this happened. It's hard to translate this experience to someone who doesn't know what it's like first hand. Even more shocking are the excuses people gave for pirating music illegally, and saying things like "they don't need the money, it's probably getting them more exposure anyways" which is as unintelligent a statement one could make on the subject.
The people pirating music act as if they have the right to dictate what musicians need and deserve. Yet they fail to realize that no matter what immature and irrelevant excuse they spew out of their greedy little mouths, there is nothing to excuse the fact that they are severely damaging the one thing they claim to love in the first place. The music itself.
How do they expect musicians to fund their recordings, go on tour, and even buy more equipment? If musicians are forced to reach into their own pockets for these things, it's less likely that people are going to get a product they will enjoy. Fans won't get a tour in their city, they won't get any merchandise, and they won't get a quality recording from the band. If a person really likes a band and wants to hear/see more from them in the future, why would they deem it appropriate to steal from them and prevent that from happening?
What's even worse, is that some people actually get legitimately angry in defense of stealing music. As if they earned the right to rob artists of their hard work. Well they don't have the right to steal from someone, and they never will. If they steal music they are nothing more than a parasite.
People have also argued they can’t afford to purchase music. By this logic if you can’t afford a concert ticket, you should be able to walk into a venue and watch the show for free. Hell, why not just grab some free merchandise too since you can’t afford that either? Artists work hard to share their creative vision with the rest of the world, and fans have to work hard earning money to support it.
Even the bigger named acts suffer from this, as surprising as that may seem. If a big name band takes a hit in record sales, the concert promoters won’t have any reason to book them since they can’t even sell any records. Touring is where a lot of bands make the most money, and when you take that away they no longer have the ability to pay for studio recordings, merchandise, road crew, and so on.
Someone who steals music is no different from a shoplifter, the only difference being its much easier to get away with stealing music via the internet since it happens so quickly, and there is nobody watching over to catch you in the act. It's a senseless act of greed and selfishness that needs to stop before it gets worse. Sadly, many people will continue to take this for granted and eventually wonder why the music they used to love has failed to grow, as this plague continues to spread like a virus.
Generally I encourage people to share their comments on articles like this, whether it be a positive outlook or even a negative one. However, if ones aim here is to try and argue why there is nothing wrong with stealing music, I ask that they not even waste their words. There is nothing anyone can say to make this right, but there is something that can be done about it. This is one case where actions will most definitely speak louder than words.
Check out another view on this subject from verteran death metal band, Kataklysm by clicking here.
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