Downloading music illegally and uploading music for illegal file sharing is destroying independent music.

I’m contemplating sending out this email to everyone on our database. It’s self explanatory and asking if everyone we know who is connected to music and the arts in even the remotest way, will forward this same email to everyone they know and so on and so on.

I’ve been a musician in the instrumental music scene for 20 years. I founded and have run AD Music as an independent label that since 1989 has released 67 CD albums by 16 artists, most available as physical and digital downloads via our own website and the  online music stores.

AD Music is artist run, we’re not some faceless corporation and if it wasn’t for the fact that the more successful artists involved on the label, particularly myself, have self funded the continued existence of the label allowing for new artists and new music, and that several people have worked for the most part unpaid to administer and promote the label and its artists, then it probably would have folded years ago.

I look at the current state of the music industry, with particular regard to illegal file sharing and insane ideas like reselling MP3’s secondhand and frankly, I just wonder what planet a lot of these people are on?

The old model of selling music, ie musician>label>distributor>wholesaler>shop>customer clearly didn’t work properly and needed changing, the overall perception being that (a) labels were greedy and (b) artists somehow weren’t entitled to the reward they received for their artistic creations. Personally, I think that (a) is only partly true. Due to my involvement in managing a label and trying to get product to the high street stores over many years, it’s worth mentioning that the % split of an album was something like 25% label 35% distributor & 40% shop. No surprise then that the shop was first to go and that along with increased internet sales and digital downloads, the inevitable domino effect followed. If you consider that the labels % includes the artists share, and that any label is still a business that has to survive, then the “huge” % received by the label and artist isn’t actually that big at all!

As to (b) I think that anyone who says artists aren’t entitled to receive fair rewards for their art is a major league sleaze bag with no morals at all and no grasp of reality. Put simply; would those people (the sleaze bags) be prepared to work at whatever job they do, for nothing? Would they be prepared to work for six months and then see some slimeball empty their bank account of a big chunk of their wages earned on the pretext that their time and effort should be given freely and wasn’t actually worth much in the first place? And Please, please don’t tell me it’s not the same because it palpably IS! The only people who say it isn’t are the same corrupt persons (sleaze bags & slime balls) that think it’s okay to steal and profit from some else’s endeavors!

When and where did people become so morally blind? Musicians create art and they hope that people will share in that art. Independent record labels, in whatever genre, do so much in helping get good quality music out there to the public, often struggling to do so, whether via CD or digitally. With the current online model of, for example, Amazon and itunes, the proliferation of sites for new unreleased music like sound-click, myspace and the way in which established independent labels can more easily reach its fan bass direct, the music industry should be a much better place. For the most part, there is a lot of good quality music available at low prices, either CD or via legally digital download or streaming sites. And there’s also a lot of legally free music too! Okay, so there’s a lot of dross as well, but that’s inevitable if you give the whole world the means to have its fifteen minutes of fame! The problem is, if we’re not careful and the illegal sites are not stamped out, then the dross is all we’ll be left with!

Publishers, record labels, music collection agencies and indeed, all those involved in the music industry in all countries around the world, should be aggressively exploring with internet service providers and Governments, ways of stamping out these sites out and plugging the loopholes that allow them to exist in the first place.

So what possible justification is there to download illegal music that is so harming many independent labels and musicians? Debate the music industry all you like, but it is simple and clear; it’s a moral choice between right and wrong; between acknowledging that a musician who has worked hard to create his or her art is entitled to receive some reward for their work, not have it taken from them and made worthless by the slime balls and sleaze bags who upload files and run illegal sites. And sites that allow file sharing of obviously copyrighted music should not be allowed to exist on the internet, wherever in the world they’re sited!

There is no justification, none whatsoever. It doesn’t matter what argument these people make, because any argument they make is only designed to attempt justification that they are making illegal gain from someone else’s work or ensuring that the artist is being denied his/her reward for their music. Most normal, commonsense people realize this when the facts are put to them.

Perhaps there is more to it; maybe it’s as much a reflection of social issues; people expecting everything for nothing and seeing flash overpaid celebrity stars and assuming that ALL musicians live like that, when in fact, what the media shows to the world is just the very small tip of a huge, huge iceberg; the rest are under the surface, just trying to get by, not unlike everyone else! And of course, perhaps there are also those who know that they can never attain any real artistic heights and begrudge those that do.

However, I do believe that there are a lot of people who download illegally who really don’t think about, and if they were made aware of the facts, the damage that they are doing to independent musicians, labels and the long term future of the music industry, they’d probably take a look at the many legal ways available to download free music and support creative musicians and independent labels instead.

So please, help support independent music by forwarding this email to everyone you know.

Downloading music illegally and uploading music for illegal file sharing is destroying independent music. Please help support your favorite independent musicians – don’t help destroy them.

~ by admusic on December 20, 2008.

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