>Is File Sharing the Enemy in Music?Posted: January 11, 2011
The description of this blog focuses a lot on the music industry, and its wrongs in its promotion of what they consider talent. I have a huge issue with mainstream music and that was one of the main purposes of this blog, to sift through the imagery, woven stories and major label lies, as well as dig into the underground, and find music worth listening to, as well as divulge opinion and facts about musicians and issues in music. With that being said I’d like to take a couple minutes to focus on the war on music piracy. For years major labels have been vehemently fighting against free digital file sharing in an effort to maintain control over the music industry. Music piracy has been a pariah, a scapegoat and the industry’s white whale, and they seem to be locked in a single-minded effort to destroy music piracy once and for all. First of all, barring yet another major evolution in the music industry beyond the digital revolution we are all currently caught up in, which is bound to happen one day, it will not stop; piracy is not something that will be defeated. Major label revenue is down, yet they spend millions upon millions shooting their heroic rifles into thin air, expecting to hit something and defeat some unseen yet persistent enemy. It’s not going to work. So we’ve established the major labels’ war on music, but how about this, what if I told you major labels were hypocrites who have embraced piracy when it works towards their own economic gain.
Recently the four big major labels in the industry have been court ordered to pay $45 million to a series of artists. The case filed against the labels was that they themselves had committed the blasphemous crime of copyright infringement; by taking music they did not have the rights to from artists, and selling it on CDs. The labels, for the most part, ignored the claims from the artists, and went about their business selling these CDs, an act that eventually could have cost the labels up to $6 billion if the issue had not been addressed. Only when a class action lawsuit was filed, did the labels pay attention to the plight of the artists they were stealing from.
Next, it is important to address the true effect piracy has had on the industry. The music industry is in a state of evolution from physical to digital dominance. Yes, revenue is down, but you have to take into account the reasons, besides piracy, that revenue has been driven down. First of all, albums are being sold for less through outlets like iTunes and especially Amazon, and they don’t need to be shipped. Secondly, the age of the album itself is coming to an end. Unlike any era in music before, consumers can now pick and choose which songs from an album they want to buy. While album sales have decreased, the sale of individual digital sales is on the rise. Buying three songs off an album legally will generate less revenue then a whole album. In 2010 281.7 million units were sold, according to BPI. This is an all-time record in the music industry. In the past 4 years units sold has risen over 25%. The consumption habits of the average music fan are evolving, and music is being embraced more then ever, even when that music is being purchased.
When you take this into account, it makes sense what labels are doing in an immoral, twisted sort of way. They’re just trying to survive, but if they continue to be set in stone about their ways instead of embracing evolution, there is no doubt that survival is not in the cards.
File sharing is not the enemy, but is actually something to be embraced. Check this out, the following is part of an article I found on the website musicthinktank.com’s blog, about how to take advantage of file sharing. This portion focuses on Greg Gillis, AKA Girl Talk’s embrace of the world of file sharing and free downloads…
“How to Capitalize with Artist Managed File Sharing
When an artist creates a dedicated landing page with a free album download, great albums will earn artists inbound links. With more links artists will outrank file sharing sites in the search engines, and ultimately, deter traffic from those networks. This is artist managed file sharing; it will directly benefit individual artists. Let’s look at an example:
Girl Talk, aka Gregg Gillis, released a new record called “All Day,” out 11.15 on Illegal Art. GT embraced these concepts. The record was free and hosted on a landing page, resulting in 4 key developments:
1. Girl Talk earned 14,903 inbound links. These links would have otherwise gone to file sharing platforms. The GT landing page received links from high authority sources like Mashable.com and MTV.com, therefore achieving higher rankings in the search results.
2. Huge increases in traffic during the month of release. Analyzing traffic figures with Compete.com, the 6 month traffic average between May and October was 3,025 unique visitors. Traffic jumped to over 211,111 unique visitors for the month of November.
3. When typing the keywords “Girl Talk download” into Google search, the GT landing page appears in the search results ahead of file sharing networks. Thus, using a file sharing network becomes pointless. This is exactly how artists should manage file sharing.
4. Girl Talk social media conversations skyrocketed the week of release. There was an estimated 18.5M GT mentions the week of 11.15.2010 – 11.22.2010 between Facebook and Twitter, up from 15 tweets the previous week. These mentions developed the brand and encouraged inbound links.”
Too many people are scared of change, and as revolutionary as music has been throughout the ages, the industry that has supported it has not been quite nearly as rebellious. In their regret to evolve, accept and embrace the digital age, and find new ways to generate income through the evolution, they are hurting themselves, the artists they claim to support, and the consumer. It’s time to evolve.
Radiohead defied their label, whom they eventually left, by allowing Amplive to continue to remix songs he did not own the right to. They embraced the digital age by releasing In Rainbows on the internet, with a pay-what-you-want pricing scheme.
Play Your Part Pt. 1, an earlier release from Girl Talk, and one of his more well known songs.