The MP3 Filesharing Dilemma, or
You Know You're in the Big Time 
When They Give You Away
 
First of all, I must clear up a mistake I made in my last article. 
I mistakenly said that a song out on the market now that bears a striking resemblance to 
"The Backstabbers" by the O'Jays was done by Mary J. Blige, when in fact it is Angie Stone.
 
Sorry, Mary, but frankly, The Young and the Restless?
 
No more drama, please.
 
     Recently I read a news article about Kazaa, the very popular peer-to-peer 
filesharing program, and its lawsuit battles with the 
Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA. Although the details of 
the case are very explicit, I won't bore you to tears running it down verbatim.
I will simply say that on the one hand, musicians are pissed that their music is being 
downloaded and traded and they're not getting paid royalties (understandable).
On the other hand, Sharman Networks, the company that owns Kazaa, is countersuing the 
industry, citing that 
"major entertainment companies have colluded to drive 
                               potential online rivals out of business." 
 
Here we go, children, another battle being waged about money and music.
As if we didn't have more serious things to worry about, huh?
 
What have I been preaching all along about the majors?
 
My question is, considering the breakthroughs in audio, video and computer technology, 
and the availability of recording, ripping and rendering software and equipment today, 
exactly what did the recording industry expect? 
 
It's not like it was back in the days of Elvis and The Fab Four.
 
Nowadays the industry is saturated with artists and musicians. 
 
Exactly how exclusive do these artists think they are now?
 
Do they honestly believe that the popularity of their CD's are going to last forever, 
and their music will be put in the Smithsonian? 
With the numbers exponentially growing, I really think not.
If some kid can go to Best Buy (nasty plug, I know)
and get a CD recorder and a truckload of blank CD-R's, 
does the industry really expect them to abstain from ripping 
some of his or her favorite tunes?
 
I say, the industry made the equipment available to the public, let them reap it. 
 
They should have known the public was going to take its liberties.
 
Some of the responses are pretty straight:
 
First off, good for Kazaa for finally having the guts (and finances, apparantly) 
to take the fight back to the music industry's doorstep. 
The industry has been dishing out a lot recently; now lets see if someone will 
shut them up. Personally, I don't feel an ounce of regret 
when I pirate music from the industry (if that is what it really is). 
C'mon, people: These fatcats have been charging us $20 for a CD for as long as I can remember? 
Why should I continue to waste my money, especially if there is only one good song 
on the whole album?
If I like a lot of music on an album, I just go out and buy it...
But I'm through supporting one hit wonders who lack 
the skill/desire to make the rest of their music quality music. 
 
By the way, my economics teacher in high school told us one day that the most marked up 
product out there is the music CD.
 
Apparantly, they cost about 83 cents to manufacture, but they get sold for around 20 dollars. 
Thats a hell of a markup and an unreasonable price to pay.
The industry is just getting now what they have had coming for a while.
 
  Secondly, I believe that the 2nd Amendment states something to the effect of 
(and I'm paraphrasing here) "citizens will have the right to bear arms as a nationwide 
militia to prevent an abusive, centralized government".
The point is, it specifically says in the Constitution that you have to be in a militia 
to bear arms...
Well, today, militias are the groups that probably need to have their guns taken away.
By that reasoning, even Grandpa Jones who likes to take his shotgun out to go duck hunting 
is technically in violation of the 2nd Amendment.
 Am I saying that he shouldn't own a gun? 
No, not necessarily; I'm just saying that people who want to cite the 
2nd Amendment when defending their right to own guns, no questions asked, need to go back and 
actually read and try to understand the 2nd Amendment.
 
People really don't have any sympathy for artists these days, either. 
(Remember I said, the market is saturated, and is about to get worse.)
The fact is, kiddies, that there are now other flavors besides Vanilla, Chocolate 
and Strawberry. Take your pick. 
There are now more categories of music than there were number one hits in the 
Woodstock days. 
 
My solution to some of the artists' concerns is sell it while it's sellable.
As a musician, I can understand the feelings of the artists involved.
But as a Realist, I know that since the market is so saturated, gone are the days 
of real musical royalty.
Realistically speaking, unless you have a real shrewd marketing strategy, don't get into this 
thing expecting to get rich. Get into it for the art, and if you make a living at it, 
fall on your knees and give thanks. 
 
Check out this writer: 
 
"...and in the middle of this all are the artists that lose money because it's easier to steal 
a song then buy it. I know, there is no easy fix and the blame game goes on.
I just feel bad for the artists being affected.
Imagine spending time and money on a project that will make you a lot of money, only to find 
out someone stole the plans and started handing them out for free.
 
Who needs to pay you now?"
 
See? 
 
Sell it while it's sellable.
 
Some actually have issues with the filesharing concept. 
They believe that the artists are workers who are worthy of their hire (I can get with that), 
and payment is the reward for their long hours of work and creativity:
 
Here's where I can understand the logic the RIAA is working under.
When someone downloads a song for free off the internet, or just copies a friends CD... 
they are NOT a consumer, or at least a paying one.
 
If you wish to sample the music before buying a CD... 
listen to the radio, read a review of the CD, or campaign for a demo service. 
If you say CD prices are too high, either don't buy the music or campaign for lower CD prices.
However, artists do have the right to be paid for their music. 
Someone else also responded about how words are free, 
and about artists trying to make us smile.
 
Sorry, you're dumb. 
 
Musicians aren't roving bands living off the charity of inn patrons and other travellers 
sitting beside a fire in the woods.
They could choose to do something else with their lives,but they've chosen music...
they've chosen to charge money for the CDs they put their music on.
They are not obligated to perform for you for free. 
You want to hear their music, agree to their conditions for playing for you. 
There's no 'They are here to make me smile, give me music 4 free!!!!!'.
 
And before anyone uses "well they have millions of dollars already"... Yes, they do.
Because their music is in high demand.
Go to school and study basic supply vs demand economics. 
Really... like any of us here would be unhappy earning millions for a song we wrote."
 
So, you ask, where is B. K. in all of this? 
 
Well, brothers and sisters, I am a musician. 
As such I create musical works in the hopes of generating income at some point in my career.
But being a creature of the new millenium,
I thoroughly understand and agree with technology's move as it relates to the music industry. 
If I create a piece of music that turns out to be a hit, sure, 
I'll make a few dollars on it in the beginning.
But if over the course if time my music becomes interesting enough for someone to 
swap over the Net,
 
I'm gonna do a backflip on the way back to the studio, dig? 
 
I'm smart enough to know that these days, fame is fleeting,
and you take what you can get when you can get it. 
Look at some of the major stars already out there. 
Most of them are giants and millionaires, and they still can't keep a hit on the charts 
for more than a month. There are so many artists out there, 
it is very easy to fall through the cracks if you are not sharp.  
 
Don't stop creating, lest you stop living.
 
And to all you rich artists out there making anti-sharing commercials; quityerbitchin. 
Consider it an honor when someone thinks your music is good enough to swap.
 
Ingrates!
 
Peace!
 
B. K.

 

 

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