Monday, 9 November 2009

Here it goes again...

So today I was surfing on the internet and came across an interview Frank Turner did, which featured quite extensive talk about his blog that had rather strong reactions about illegal downloads.



Some of you who have been following Cyclamen for a while may know that I am massively against file sharing music that is not approved by artists.
The main reason for this is quite simple.

They think their music is worth your hard-earned money, and they want you to pay for it if you like them.
That leaves ONLY two choices for you:
- If you want to have access to their music, you do what they want you to do - pay for the music
- If you want to have access to their music, but don't feel that it's worth the money they are asking for, you don't pay - and you don't get the music.

That's it. There is no other choice you should be thinking of. That's what the creator(artist)'s wants to do, and they can do whatever they want to with what they've created spending huge amount of effort.
They've accepted the fact that some people might not hear their music because they are asking for money, and you can only respect and embrace their decision.
What you don't do is disrespect them by obtaining the music in a way that they are not happy for you to do.
That is what makes this downloading issue download stealing more than anything.

You can argue non-sense like:
a. "Art shouldn't be about money",
b. "No one is forcing you to make music, you are doing this by your own choice"
c. "It's free market, you need to be innovative to earn your money, don't complain and get on with it"

which seem to be three most popular arguments - Here is what I think:
a. "Art shouldn't be about money"
Yes, art itself can be irrelevant of money issue(Some artists make music without worrying about how well it sells), but process of making money will always cost money, and it's only fair to ask for the cost - Unless you expect musicians to be some sort of charitable people who sacrifice their blood, sweat and tears for your own entertainment.
If you actually think they all are/should be, then you are very much mistaken.

There are some musicians who genuinely don't mind not getting any money in return and share their music free.
But that should be only the case IF THEY CHOOSE TO. If the artist wants to make money from their music, then it's their choice and you should respect their choice.
If you don't agree with choice, again you always have choice of not buying their music and not listening to their music. They may be losing potential fans who would listen to their music if they are free but artists have happily accepted that fact for money. You never have right to argue against their decision or steal music just because you think they should be provided free.

Let's say you are in a pub, and there is a wallet on the table that belongs to someone else, but no one is looking after it. Do you steal the wallet just because you can, even though you know the owner would not be happy if you do? No - Or at least I hope you have decency not to.

But if you are in a pub, and the pub owner is trying to promote their new beer and giving away a pint for free, then by all means, have it free.

See the difference? It's all about whether the owner is happy with the action or not, not whether the action in right or wrong. It maybe true that it's the wallet owner's fault that he left it unattended, but that is not, by any means, something you can use to justify your action of stealing.

You may think beer should be provided free in pubs, but that doesn't mean you can just help yourself a pint, even if bar man happens to be not there because they feel they provide good service worth your money, and they need to pay for these beers from the suppliers. If you feel they don't deserve your money, then you can not go to the pub, or ask for tap water - Not quite beer, but that's life.

In exactly the same way, musicians put their money into producing music - They put money into their instruments, recording, promotion, and their life - And they think the final product is worth your money. If you don't agree, you have choice of not buying - and you can listen to them on Spotify, Myspace or whatever, not quite the same as having mp3s, but that's life. (Much better deal than "tap water and beer" comparison I reckon!)

Tell me a place where I can find free instruments, free recording studio, and free promotion to do what they manage to do right now, to the same quality they achieve, and I am sure they will be happy to provide all their music for free.

b. "No one is forcing you to do what you do":
Yes, they've made the choice to try to make living from playing music, but they did not choose for you to steal music and fuck their lives. As I said in the first point, you are allowed to select a choice within the choices the musicians decided to provide to you, and consequences within these choices are entirely their fault.
But to find alternative that is not agreed by the artists(i.e. illegally downloading music when the artist expect you to buy) is not acceptable. You are disrespecting them and abusing their property, and there is no justification for that.

c. "It's free market, you need to be innovative to earn your money"
I am all down for this, I agree that the music industry has been lazy far too long trying to milk their money out of old business model when they really should have worked hard to invent new business model. But this is totally abusive use of word "free market".

According to Wiki: "A free market describes a market without economic intervention and regulation by government except to regulate against force or fraud", and this basically means that: You are allowed to do whatever you like, as long as you don't do things that's not classified as illegal. I am not sure why file sharing would have name "illegal download" if it wasn't.
Secondly, if free market concept is operated properly, this is what should happen:
1. Each artists(or label) try to make better music than other to sell more
2. Each artists(or label) try to provide music as cheap as possible in order to give competitive edge
3. Price keeps dropping because of this competition
4. Eventually some artists(or label) start to provide music free, and so artists who try to sell their music won't be able to sell their music anymore, you can't compete with free.
5. Artists who try to sell music will disappear, due to the fact that they cannot compete with free music.

But what has happened in reality instead of Step 4, of ARTIST DECIDING THEMSELVES TO PROVIDE MUSIC FREE, people started to steal their music just because they can. This is not accepted, even in "free market" environment, and should not be tolerated because artists are not happy to do that.
It's not because this technology or the way of doing business is wrong. I would have no problem with people downloading music from Torrent if artists agreed to share it free, and I am all happy for the world with free music - GIVEN THAT'S THE DECISION MADE BY ARTISTS.

So yeah, basically reading some really stupid comments attempting to justify illegal downloads made me really angry that I had to write this...

P.S. If you've finished reading this, and still think music should be free, why don't you provide us with free tracks with the same quality these awesome artists provide us? I'm sure people will appreciate it, and it will be a step forward to free music in free marketing environment.

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