12 September 2009

Time for MPs to Face the Music on Sharing

Another ill-informed opinion piece from a politician about file-sharing:

Platinum selling artists Radiohead and Pink Floyd have said they are happy to see their music used as a sort of digital loss leader to sell other products, but these groups are the exception rather than the rule. The average musician earns less than £15,000 a year and losing royalties makes the day-to-day struggle even harder for them.

Those average musicians - just like average authors - will tell you the biggest problem they face is getting known, not getting paid. What musicians, and authors like me, struggle with is to get the word out about our stuff amongst the million other offerings out there. Believe it or not, simply having a distributor does not solve that problem: in my experience they pretty much expect *you* to do the marketing.

Paradoxical as it may seem, giving your stuff away is one of the best ways to make money. Not necessarily from the content - although that is possible, too, for example by selling physical CDs/books to people who have digital versions - but from ancillary revenue. This is not to be sneezed at: *all* the top pop musicians make much more from their live appearances than they do from their CDs (which is why an artist like Prince *gives away* CDs to people who attend his concerts).

As the quotation above concedes, giving away stuff isn't a difficulty for the top artists, and as I've indicated, giving it away is precisely the best way for less well-known musicians to break out of their low-income ghetto.

So, really, the only people who lose out from the sharing of music online are the record companies, who find themselves without a role. But the idea that civil liberties should be curtailed simply to keep afloat a dying - and widely-hated, both by artists and consumers - industry, should be self-evidently absurd.

It's worrying that the author of this latest simplistic attack on file-sharing, apparently "a former member of Runrig", is unable to see this. He and other demagogues that attack sharing for whatever reason would do well to look at the facts, and not glibly regurgitate the propaganda of the industry and its lobbyists.

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Cyberdoyle said...

Most politicians simply don't get 'IT'. simple as that. Your post shows far more insight than they ever do with their biased ramblings fueled by media backhanders to party funds. I fully support the artists, but am sick of the hangers on who bleed them dry. Am also fed up with the last few generations of kids being ripped off for music. I am glad this generation has found a workaround and wish the industry would increase the level of availability of itunes, spotify etc so music/games/books can be purchased at reasonable prices without the markup for the hype and fatcats. Totally agree that 'getting known' is the problem faced by most artists, and sharing stuff freely is the best way to do it. Organic, viral marketing - costs nowt.

Glyn Moody said...

@cyberdoyle: yes, that's certainly true: the ignorance about technology displayed by most of our elected representatives - with a few honourable exceptions - is staggering. Perhaps we should sending them on a mandatory course in C programming...

Cyberdoyle said...

I actually disagree with you on the 'C' course, a physics course might be more useful to policy makers. I also think they should have a course on living in a rural area trying to run a business and bringing up a family who need internet connection for school work. That would then start them down the path to figuring out why broadband just can't possibly work using obsolete copper.

Glyn Moody said...

Perhaps we can just agree on a rounded education for them...

Cyberdoyle said...

or maybe a dose of common sense would do them good?
At the moment the majority in our houses of parliament and councils seem sadly lacking in that basic human quality. (although there are some great MPs and councillors their voices are drowned by the f***wits)

paulkbiba said...

I reposted this over at TeleRead, with appropriate links of course.

Paul Biba

Glyn Moody said...

@paul: that's great, thanks for letting me know.

Please feel free to re-post anything here of interest - all I need is a link back to the original.