Monday, 19 October 2009

The Good Ship Morality vs The Pirates...

Whoooooh scary title eh?

But sadly it is just a rather theatrical head dress that I have plonked on top of the same old badger-faced rant that I always find myself regurgitating...

File-sharing and music theft (sigh..)

I don't for one minute believe that many (or indeed ANY) people who read this blog are going to go away and think "Wow that guy has really touched me... I am only going to pay for my music now", because they are not. In fact you probably have this window open in a tab next to Rapidshare, Z-Share or Megaupload. And with each heavy hearted keystroke I type, millions of pounds worth of music all over the world makes its way onto peoples computers without so much of a nod towards the people who worked hard to create it...

My argument is not a selfish one, I promise. Originally I think it was. I would say things like, "My record would be X many places higher on Beatport if it wasn't for all this!", or "I would have made X pounds more if it wasn't for all that".

But now I have let the ingredients of my rants (my rage, my anger and my disappointment) simmer for a while...

They have gradually reduced themselves down to a thick, sweet jus of sadness.

Because I don't blame the internet for this pandemic. Nor do I blame the lack of security on MP3 files...

I blame PEOPLE.

The internet in many ways is like a nuclear missile. A missile is an awesome feat of engineering. It has the ability to inflict the maximum amount of damage with little or no participation from its operator. He just sits in front of his screen a thousand miles away and hits the big red button.

However, all of us as operators have the choice not to press that button. We can all look at the list of songs on and say, "You know what... I'll go and get this from Beatport".

But we DON'T. And that is where the crime happens... Yes hosting the tracks is a breach of mechanical copyright. But if nobody downloaded them they wouldn't bother hosting them.

Nope I am sticking to my guns and I am laying the blame squarely on PEOPLE and the lack of morality that is being instilled in the iGeneration. Downloading illegal music is no different to being given a window of opportunity at a department store and shoving a load of sweaters in your bag Winona Ryder style. Its wrong, and no matter what excuse you fire at me it will ALWAYS be wrong. The really sad part is you won't realize it is wrong until its too late...

The bow of the 'Good Ship Morality' has been fired upon by the pirates and now the ship is sinking... And there is nothing I or anyone else can do about it.

I was accused of soap-boxing about this in Twitter earlier. My reply was "Damn right I am!". I can't change this situation, but I can make my opinion heard.

I am an officer on the 'Good Ship Morality' + I am holding my salute true and firm, as this once glorious vessel goes to shit and disappears into the murky black waters of "acceptable theft".


  1. Then less famous producers who are dying for attention could be blamed for this too, right? I mean they are intentionally spreading their tracks to get more exposure with the big audience and hope the will eventually play at that main stage. People who are downloading illegal tracks dont see the difference between somebody that is spreading for promotion or an illegal stolen track. And also some of the big players in the game wouldn't never be where they are now, simply because nobody wouldnt know who they the knife cuts both ways i think.

  2. I guess you could also throw into the ring those producers that make their tracks using a variety of cracked software... just to balance the argument.

    I'm actually a thousand percent against filesharing of any description - it's old fashioned theft no two ways about it..

    In response to Pascal above - A new producer trying to make it (i include myself in this group) could simply give away tracks to increase their exposure - nothing wrong with GIVING something away for free - but when it's TAKEN freely without permission, then there's a problem. It's true to say that our industry in particular - house & it's related genre's - is it's own worst enemy.

    Lots of do as i say not as i do - lots of people giving lip service to appear like they have integrity, whilst at the same time downloading stuff from Bit Torrent.

    We can shout and ball all we like - but it's going to take a LAW to fix this - Are you listening Gordon Brown? Sort it out before House eats itself...

  3. I full heartedly agree. You are in a wonderful position of influence my friend. As a reputable DJ, you are an example to MANY. So to blog on this is very significant gesture. The only way to lead people is by EXAMPLE, and you're setting a very good example. Being a DJ/Producer can be good fun, but once you get to a certain level you're able to do more than just have fun - you're able to INFLUENCE PEOPLE. I believe that you can do plenty of that from your platform. So continue to do so, don't be discouraged by those who think good morals aren't worth having, keep promoting superior values in a market that has abandoned them, and be the embodiment of the trust worthy quote, "the laborer is worthy of his wages."

  4. Another quick addition to ponder - Why is it that all artists receive PRS royalties for Video and radio play - yet a club producer receives fuck all for having his/her tracks spun all over the world? We're the whipping boys of the music industry.

    Is it any wonder that once respectable underground artists sell-out to the mainstream as soon as the opportunity presents itself?

  5. Dear funkagenda,

    True words in there. But still, as long as the dance music industry will be full of arrogant morons and douchebag wannabe's, that situation will remain exactly the same. People just associate every single artist of a specific genre with its douchebag superstar, and they just think that they get enough money off sales. Turn tv, radio, internet on and you get those superstar tracks for free. Why pay for something that's considered by many subpar then? That's how people consider you when you're not a superstar "as seen on tv", and you might be the biggest musician on earth.

    The change is right behind the corner and it brings another atomic bomb with it: education and ethics inside the music industry. Don't believe me? I'm a living proof of it.

    Take care

  6. Funkagenda and myself have previous on this topic so I feel compelled to get my digital pen out!

    My argument with him when we 'discussed' this topic a while back was that Producers should every now and then give something back to the people who buy (i.e. pay for) their music. Funkagenda (being the sarcy bleeder he is) asked whether I wanted a Moonpig card each time I bought one of his tracks. In the face of such adversity it was good to see he hadn't lost his sense of humour! Anyway, back on track...

    A mate called me last week telling me about a website which you can point at youtube which rips the music to your hard drive. He declared 'the quality is mint' and that it was something I should take a look at. He'd successfully, ripped Mr Zimmermans latest album and was chuffed at being able to download it for free.

    First off, we all know the quality of ripped tunes on youtube is dog turd which is why I'm proud to say that my entire iTunes collection is legal and my entire dance music collection has been paid for via Beatport. Did I check out the website he mentioned? No? Instead I visited my local HMV and purchased a copy of the Mau5's album. I left the shop clutching my CD feeling great! I don't even buy CD's but I had to act!

    As an amateur producer (I'm not even going to capitalise the p) I give away my music for free on my website. All I ask is that if someone downloads one of my tunes they leave a comment on my site. Despite my tunes appearing on 'house mixes' all over the net I've never been left one single comment. People basically don't give a fcuk. If they can get something for free then they will do. The fact that I PAID for my Macbook, Ableton, Arturia Minimoog, fxpansion's DCAM Synths and Sylenth1 means jack shit. I'm grabbing your tune and I'm not even going to thank you for it least of all pay you 79p !!

    This counter's Pascal argument straight away. I am giving it away! That's my choice! Its not been nicked without my say so and there's a big difference!

    The interweb is killing the music industry. File Sharers are killing the music industry. People's piss poor perception of 'sound quality' is killing the music industry.

    This industry we all love will become extinct unless we all get our heads around the fact that paying a couple of quid for a track that took 3 weeks to produce, that has been created by talented artists and that has been mastered by people who know what they're doing is actually not a bad deal.

    A final point, If I'd have tried to nick that CD from HMV I'd have been gripped by the security guards and been given a good slap prior to being handed over to the Dibble. Stu is right, we need legislation to sort this out before all we're left with is Radio 4..

    TDF over and out..

  7. @airwavemusic: so what are you saying, it's all right to steal from the rich but not from the poor? Or is it the other way around. It's OK to steal music that's not on TV because it's somehow worse? In that case it would be like stealing from the poor.
    Songs on the radio and tv are not entirely free because tv and radio stations pay for broadcasting them. If the viewers/listeners get them for free it's because someone else is paying for it (advertisers/cable networks etc). In the same way, there are lots of music related sites that let you listen to music for free if you watch ads or something.

    Nice post. I agree about blaming the people. Internet and MP3 file formats are just tools but people decide how to use them. To quote Herbie Hancock: "an axe is a tool, an axe can be a tool to cut wood to build a house, or can be a tool to slaughter your neighbor".
    Although I agree with you, I'm not sure if targeting people's morale is the best move when we know that not many of them consider piracy as theft or anything wrong for that matter. I think we need to start from there and educate.

  8. I have no fuckin idea what Airwave Music is on about.

  9. Agree with the original post wholeheartedly, particularly on the point that it's the PEOPLE that are to blame...

    Although piracy sucks, the way to solve it is NOT through technology. It is impossible, and it will never work. At the end of the day, if you can listen to it, you can pirate it at a high enough quality for 95% of the heads out there... End of story.

    DRM is a complete miserable failure, and any attempt to stop the recording and distribution of any media is doomed to limit freedom a terrifying amount, and give some third party major control over how you use your computer and recording devices.

    I purchase my music, but I refuse RENT my music from a DRM shop. Thank goodness the major labels are finally coming around on that, and you can purchase DRM-free music.

    Solving this problem lies with educating people, not with some ineffective draconian technology that restricts how we use our computers and recording devices.

  10. Eric i have to disagree - You can appeal to people's sincerity but if the technology is there to download behind close doors - the problem remains.

    Technology has to be the answer - there are so many simple things that can be done to shut file sharing down but nobody is prepared to stand up and be counted. The answer has to agreed and implemented in UNISON so nobody becomes a fall guy.

    EG - Virgin Boroadband stand up and say that they will police file downloads - punishing anyone downloading illegally by either throttling or disconnecting their internet alltogether - So everybody moves to SKY Broadband and Virgin lose millions overnight. THIS is the real problem. The people that stand to potentially lose out have no affinity with the music industry. Their problem is profit loss.

    I'll say it again - A law must be passed to force compliance in unison. That doesn't happen - we're fucked.. in my opinion...

  11. Stu, I guess I should have been more clear about the application of anti-piracy technology. I would agree that the technology to stop this should be applied at the file-sharing level. You cannot stop people from copying music, you just have to catch them when they share it.

    You will never stop the ability to copy/share music without "plugging the analog hole". How do you stop somebody from plugging the headphone output of a CD player in to their sound card, recording audio, and sharing the MP3?

    The ONLY way to stop the ripping of music is to eliminate analog inputs from the consumer market on every single device. (Can't have those, people can pirate with them!) This is a ludicrous proposition.

    DRM doesn't stop piracy. Digital signing / encryption doesn't stop piracy. At the end of the day, one must understand that people will crack software, they will crack encryption schemes, and there will always be a way to copy music. The guys cracking the stuff are often sharper than the guys writing the protection, and you will never plug the analog hole...

    Killing file-sharing is the way to attack this problem. NOT by introducing DRM with HDCP and other incredibly-limiting and ineffective technologies that do nothing more than inconvenience legit consumers, and cause them to have to buy more shit they don't really need...

    Great discussion!

  12. So here I go after the 5000 little tweets I saw from The Agenda ;-)

    I totally agree with the point that it is a crime as much as anything else that is put in the "theft" category and that a lot of people do not understand the difference between "given away fro free for promotion" and "taken without permission".

    I myself about 10 years ago when all this Napster stuff was totally hype tried it as well and who has not - at least thought about it. But then again you see all those who work hard to actually produce a track, make their living with music and you see all the effort that goes into promotion, labels and the whole tail connected to just this one song and then you (well at least I) realize, that just by klicking the DOWNLOAD button you fuck up so many people's life in so many ways, it is just scary.

    I myself am a DJ and producer for about 10 years now and I stil am trying to make the one record, play this one gig, but with all those looneys around who open anyting like eMule, Bit Torrent, Rapidshare and who knows what, it is getting harder by the day. Yes, I am in the lucky position that I do get promotion mp3's, but still, the really good stuff is only to be found on Beatport and all the other online music stores, and then only if you really know what you are looking for. The "downloaders" as I got to know them only look for the freaking "whatever top 100" and the damage goes mainly to the majors, who then due to the fact that income is decreasing, have no financial means anymore to support new and upcoming talents and soon we will all drown in a swamp of mindless crappy cover bullshit because it is the low-cost alternative, hardly any producing and making the most money cause everyone knows the song already.

    I think no matter what law we will have (UK, Germany, USA, name it), there will always and forever be people downloading from any kind of source, because they have figured it out once how to get the songs for free, and those people will do anything to keep on not paying.

    But I ask myself the one thing:
    You pay hardly any fees for any Internet Flatrate anymore - so why be greedy and get the songs for free if a really cool track on beatport costs you roundabout 1,20€? I spend about 25€ monthly there and have the privilege of being able to play the coolest stuff around - 10 years ago I would pay 9€ for an imported vinyl (from UK eg) - So I save 7,80€ per record and that times 20 songs i buy on beatport per month is 150€ a month that i save (this is 1.800€ a year!!!) - This sounds as if it is so cheap it is close to "for free" anyways.

    I personally think it is way too late to pass a law that is strong enough to control all this - the only thing we can do with a strict law is damage control and even that will take a while. The music industry realized the pros and cons of online music way too late and the artists of today have to deal with the consequences. I am not saying "screw the law" - please do it as soon as possible, but how many people will be able to pay the fees for their crime anyways in relation to the loss for the industry.

    I am very glad that at least Funkagenda speaks out, every artist asked in any interview is always ranting about "yeah it is a problem and booohoo same answer always" - no one speaks their mind anymore and says "fuck all of you who do this" because they are scared to then be unpopular or loose fans (see Metallica's lawsuit agains Napster).

    If more artists would follow Funkagenda's example it would be much more heard and would make a much bigger difference.

  13. (Stands on his soapbox against DRM even though nobody here was directly advocating it).

    Sorry, I'm bitter. :)

  14. Is there anything to be said for 'added value' releases then - Adam, do you know if MK's Toolroom Knights comp sold more units because of the Mannheim remix parts and competition?

    What about tracks in various playable formats - pre warped for Ableton / Traktor loop points etc.

    Stems for remixing?

    Just throwing some ideas around here....

  15. Stu... that is exactly what I was on about when I mentioned in my first post that once in a while Producers should give something back! It was a great move by Toolroom, who I think are at the forefront of making me (the fan) feel well treated as a paying customer. I actually blogged about that release a while back paying them some credit.

  16. I'm thinking that (although it doesn't solve the underlying problem) any extra material or 'extras' that can be incorporated to make the end user 'want' to own the product must be a good thing. If done with purpose it would also make the whole package an unwieldy file size, deterring the casual pirate from downloading the package.

    Even in the file-sharing world, there seems to be a need to have the complete product whatever that may be.

    Extra cost to the label would be minimal - the real cost being man hours in preparation of tailored formats for example. I know the mainstream music scene are toying with the idea of bringing back a digitised form of record cover art and inlay notes. How about a short 'making of' video to both bump the filesize and help create a loyal fan base?

    I know this isn't an answer to all the above but perhaps a decent idea nonetheless and a relatively cheap experiment to test and measure in terms of effectiveness...

  17. I'm in a band who releases everything for free and only plays shows that cost $2 or less and are all ages. You don't deserve money or wealth for making music, and neither do I. Stop being so damn egotistical and think that every artist deserves every last dollar for their music. It's simply not true. Making music is not an occupation, it's a passion, and stop crying when 90% of your fans probably make their money off a boring desk job.

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