Opinions On File-Sharing From The Mouth Of Artists
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, Entertainment Industry, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
Numerous debates on file-sharing kept the attention of the public, with opinions from both the artists and the entertainment industries. On that matter, we hereby post the point of view of three different artists on how file-sharing affects economy and their jobs.
The first post focuses on a recent rumor which involves Bruce Wills. Apparently he was having a discussion with Apple in order to “transfer” his iTunes library legacy to his next-of-kin. Dessa – a rapper and member of the Domtree Collective – opens an interesting debate on license sales, referring to Monsanto and Apple.
Peddling a product that consumers can duplicate for free is a tricky business. With affordable consumer technology, you can now copy a song a hundred times, with no degradation in the sound quality—and most people seem to immediately recognize why that’s gonna make it harder to get paid for songs. But my first experiences with lossless, duplicable technology didn’t have anything to do with my career as a rapper. My first encounter wasn’t with a torrent site. Or a bootlegged disc. It was a tomato.
Seeds, quite obviously, are the mechanism of plant duplication. You drop a sunflower seed in wet dirt and, bang, you get a brand new one. Essentially, you just ‘burned’ a sunflower. The seeds of this new plant can then be harvested and planted to create an infinite, almost lossless supply of flowers and seeds.
On the matter of seeds, Monsanto is currently selling licenses for the technology in the seed, rather than the seed itself, while clearly banning resales or the transferring of its seeds to unlicensed users. And their example is followed by iTunes. Those who purchase anything from their library are bound to the rules of EULA. In other words, you purchase nothing because you have no rights on the purchased good.
Furthermore, Dessa points out that the user agreements and stipulations are the least to say exaggerated.
These rules and regulations can undermine our fundamental ideas of what it means to actually own something. In most of our purchasing lives, we pay for product and then we can do with it as we like… So If I’m only allowed to interact with my purchase in meticulously prescribed ways…it starts to feel less like mine. Like a pet I’m not allowed to touch or see.
Losslessly reproducible technologies are just complicated things to own… In many ways, the whole ownership model just seems poorly suited to duplicable technology… When we try to force new technology into the old model, our contracts end up sounding really, well, creepy. Instead of asking, Whose is this, who gets paid for it, and how much?, the conversation might be better reset by asking What is this, who made it, who uses it, and what’s fair?
Next in the list is Bunny Intonamorous – a recording artist and a netlabel co-founder. His post reads:
Mirco Pagano and Moreno de Turco were quoted in the article as saying that “Piracy infects and destroys music, preventing artists to succeed and become idols as in the past.”
My fury is two-fold: piracy of music prevents no-one from succeeding let alone infecting and destroying music, and also this (frankly outdated) notion that to be successful in music you have to be some kind of mega-stadium-level superstar money-machine.
Furthermore, Bunny’s post explicitly covers the issues of piracy – explaining that although piracy indeed had an impact on music sales, there wasn’t any money to talk about in the first place. In other words, touring is what really brings revenues. Moreover, piracy brought the change in the music landscape – it changed the way artists are perceived.
For better or worse (read: better) piracy is here and it’s changed things. These days an artist has to have a presence over data-rich streaming sites such as soundcloud and bandcamp if they accurately want to gauge the size of their audience and tour efficiently enough to get money out of it and start building a reputation. And even then, it’s risky, but it negates the main problems with piracy and money can, and will, still be made. I certainly wouldn’t say that piracy is killing music. In fact, it’s making a lot more music more widely available, which increases the amount of different breeding grounds there are, technically (though not necessarily) increasing the amount of interesting acts and artists out there.
In fact piracy of music software has broken down boundaries even further. Not only can people hear and experience a wider range of inspirational existing music, but now musical creation has become more widely available.
While the industry is waiting for the next wonder kid to produce a $25 million album, blaming piracy is still their lead song, because it’s easier to focus on that than accept cultural tendencies or the economic distress.
And this is one of many reasons I really appreciate how piracy has changed the face of musical culture (along with the internet in general, of course): it has forced musicians to stop the whole rock ‘n’ roll, “untouchable”, get-the-fuck-away-from-me attitude that beleaguered “legends” for some time, and encouraged artists to interact with their fans. This not only creates entirely new platforms for interaction other than just through audio, but has also de-fangs and de-mystifies these people, which then decreases the amount of “artist anxiety” someone faces when looking to create.
My biggest gripe with the whole “legends” argument, however, is that there needs to be some form of monopoly on 1) record sales, and 2) the public consciousness in terms of music. The second point, I fear, is the impulse of monoculture – that same impulse that abhorred subcultures in times past (which is slowly also being eroded, thankfully – be who you want! choose your friends! etc. – another wondrous example of what technology can bring you). Either way the suggestion is that, the way musical culture has been headed for the past few years is utterly wrong.
Granted, musical culture and money are in a strange state of flux at the moment, but the trends have been leaning towards a more aware, more (arguably) moral state of business: that you pay for what you enjoy so that these musicians – who generally tend to be very thankful – get if not all the cash you gave them, then at least a fairly sizeable chunk.
Last but not least, here’s the opinion of Gayla Drummond – a self-published author whose home is Feral Intensity. For those of you who have no idea who Gayla is, you should know that she’s one of the few authors who defended LendInk.
I researched to discover what the major reasons for piracy were, and came up with three: availability, DRM, and price.
As a result, I distributed my work to as many sites as possible, made it DRM free where I was able to, and experimented with pricing to find what people were willing to pay for it. I stated more than once that I was totally okay with people loaning my ebooks to others (before lending systems on Amazon, etc), but did ask that they please not put my work on file sharing sites.
Then someone did. Tria’s Tale ended up on one in January 2011.
My reaction was something along the lines of ‘Jeeze, the one thing I ask people not to do!’ and then it was ‘Oh, well’. Except when I checked the file sharing site, I discovered they required people to pay a membership fee in order to download anything. That got my back up; the site was making money from offering access to my, and others’, content. They weren’t selling the actual files themselves, just access to them. That was not okay with me. I sent a DMCA notice and within 72 hours, the site removed the link to Tria’s Tale.
There’s a huge difference between sharing and piracy, however. While the DMCA is still working things out in this matter, Drummond’s opinion on piracy is not yet concluded.
I can’t say whether it’s related or not, since I actually just realized it last night, but my sales doubled in 2011. That link was only up for 10 days at the most, but for all I know, it was related to the sales increase.
When everything you’re doing isn’t producing the desired results, it’s time to try something different.
That is why I’ve become a ‘self-pirate’.
I want readers. Readers who will enjoy my work and let me know in some fashion. So when Ashen made his suggestion to me after the Lendink mess, I said YES.
While he was busy doing the heavy work of file prep and ‘seeding’ (the FSM bless him for putting up with my stupid questions and general cluelessness!), Google alerts notified me that The Contract Bride (http://goo.gl/yDyUo) was mentioned on a certain forum. I always check out my Google alerts, and went for a look.
Lo and behold, file sharing links to it had been posted.
For just a second, I was all petulant about it: ‘That’s not one of the titles I picked out!’, but I got over that and ran with it because someone thought it good enough to recommend to others, AND THAT IS WHAT I WANT! Joined the forum to leave a comment with a link to a newly created page on my author site.
The next day, I had 3 new sales on Amazon and had received a donation from someone from that forum. That is the most action I’ve seen in a single day in regards to my ebooks since March, people.
There are many studies which concluded that file-shares are rather more inclined to purchase goods than non-sharers.
Don’t get me wrong, I by no means think doing this is going to catapult me into fame and fortune. But file sharing is widespread, and may possibly be the most effective, least time consuming method of getting my work in front of eyeballs.
It’s not any different than offering freebies through Amazon’s Select program or other sites when you decide to put your own work out there, and it’s certainly not going to have anymore negative of an effect than doing that. It’s a different platform with content hungry people.
And to back her claims, Drummond offers a link where you can download some of her e-books.
There you have it, folks. Truth be told, if life taught us something is this: there will always be opponents and defenders of a new idea, but what’s important is the actual utility of it – and file-sharing proved more than once that it changed things for the best – from providing a new market place that brought millions together, to the simple act of sharing the things you like with the ones dear to you. Monetize that? Never!