Friday, 22 January 2010

Digital Piracy Rocks the Music Industry

So I read an article today about how Digital piracy is responsible for the decrease in sales of both hard copy music and downloads from legal download sites such as Itunes and Spotify.

Maybe it's just time for a change? Isn't it an exciting thought that actually people might get to have their own say about what they like? There's very little need for a recording contract with a record company anymore as digital recording software is easy to buy and easy to use. Bands can make some pretty damn fine "demos" in their rehearsal room and actually the quality most times is every bit as good as anything you can buy in the shops.

So you record your demo, then you load it onto MySpace for all the world to see, or you put it on Itunes to sell or you leak it to a site where people can download it illegaly for free.

Rather than bemoaning the falling sales maybe the music industry needs to look at this as a chance to change the way it operates. For years the public has been at the mercy of A&R people, huge companies deciding what we should listen to. They pay huge amounts of money to media to ensure that their next big thing is on the cover of the right magazines and played every 10 minutes on the radio. They saturate the market until even those of us with our own minds can't avoid hearing it. The media tells us what to think all the time, whether it's what music we should like, what constitutes attractive in the celebrity world or how thin we should be.

And ok, maybe we should feel sorry for the artists, those people who have worked hard on crafting their masterpieces only to find no one is buying them but everyone has a copy on their Ipod all the same.

But how sorry should we feel for the artist? ok so no one is buying their records, but when they sign a contract and recieve a huge multimillion pound non refundable advance payment against royalties, they're not the ones losing out are they? Nope. It's the record company that loses out because they never recoup the money back if no one buys the records.

And even if sales did impact on the artist, do we really care? Do they really deserve all the money when all they're likely to do is snort it up their nose anyway?

There will always be some bands you love so much you will buy every format that comes out, I myself recently acquired vinyl copies of the 3 original albums by The Beat, an honest to goodness hard working band, that gig constantly and keep smiling. I would like to hope that they earn enough from gigging to make a decent living, because they are my favourite band to watch and long may they continue to tour.

Maybe that is the key. Where in the past live tours were seen as a marketing expense to promote an album, perhaps the industry needs to stop bemoaning the falling record sales and shift their focus. Make records a marketing expense to promote a live tour. Instead of recording deals they can offer promotion deals, if they think a band is good enough they can raise their profile and make them celebrities so they can sell out stadiums at ?75 a ticket.

Although that wont appeal to everyone, some people like the small gig experience. but then again some people like buying CDs. The Music industry is never going to please everyone, but if they shift their focus they may find they at least still have an industry to call their own.