Illegal Downloading and the Music Industry – Editorial
“Illegal downloading is a double-edged sword…in one way, it’s killed the music industry…in other ways it’s broadened the fan bases of so many newer bands…Unfortunately it’s made our ‘products’ cheaper (products is a shitty way to describe a ‘song’, but after all, these ARE the things that we create…our craft, our ‘art’ ).At the same time though, illegal downloading has allowed for more people to be able to be exposed to our songs and influenced by our music. Hopefully from that, the true ‘fan’ will go out and buy a ‘real’ product of ours…like a T-shirt, a concert ticket, or a ‘Roxie Box’…..ha!”
– Ryan Roxie (guitarist for Alice Cooper, Casablanca, Roxie 77)
Artists everywhere are continually seeing the effects of illegal downloading of music, good and bad, as our technology grows. The pirating of music is causing the cost of concert tickets to rise and making it harder for artists to make it in the music industry. However, it is helping to increase the exposure of bands. Illegal downloading is not only taking the profit from thousands of musicians all over the world, it’s stealing art and affecting new artist’s chances of making it in the industry.
Keith Ash of The Guessing Game had this to say about illegal downloading and it’s effect on the industry: “I think that people just want to access music they like quickly, easily and not have it feel over priced, just like any other entertainment product. The music industry (including musicians) were terribly behind the ball on the internet explosion because they were all too invested in selling plastic (CD’s). As a result many consumers turned to illegal downloading, which was quick, easy and free. It is now declining as purchasing music online becomes an easier and relatively cheap process. However, just like people used to share their records or record them onto cassettes or burn disc copies of music for their friends, file sharing and illegal downloading will always be present. The reality for musicians is that hopefully you are able to at least cover you costs when you sell music, but it is really about exposing people to your art so they will pay to see you perform live. That is where we can consistently make money (if enough people like your music). The fact that tours used to be about selling records was really only true for record companies. So, in a nutshell, if you don’t provide people with an easy and reasonably priced way to purchase something they really want, they will figure out a way to get it without you.”
In order to make up for this loss in income caused by illegal downloading, concert and merchandise prices are increased immensely, making it expensive to see some bands that would otherwise have cheaper tickets. This is because a record deal is like a loan. Artists have to pay back the money loaned to them to make their record through record sales. Due to pirating of music, most artists aren’t making enough money to pay the record companies back for what they used to make their records, therefore, they have to increase the prices of concert tickets and merchandise in order to have enough money to pay everything back.
Due to illegal downloading, it is getting increasingly harder for new artists to make their way into the music industry. When asked during our interview what it takes for a band to make it today versus when he was starting out with Cinderella, Tom Keifer said “Record companies and publishing companies are the people who develop artists and when they don’t have the money because their revenues are down by billions of dollars, literally, because only a fraction of music that’s out there right now is actually paid for. Record budgets and artist development budgets and stuff are just nothing. There’s zero and it’s one of the areas in the industry that’s been impacted the hardest, so pay attention out there, kids and listen. You know, when we were coming up, record companies had tons of money, so you could make a really crappy demo and they had A&R people who had ears and imaginations and they could listen to this crappy demo and say “man, we could make a real record with these people” and they would sign you based on that cruddy demo and bring you in and make sure you had the best producers and studio engineers and make a real record with you. That kind of opportunity is few and far between these days.”
Now, record companies are expecting artists to be completely ready with finished records before they approach them. A couple of decades ago, record companies would work with a band to make them as good as they could be. They wanted to be a part of the band getting to their full potential. That doesn’t happen as much now in the industry, simply because they don’t have the budget to shape artists and bring them to their full potential when making a record anymore, all because of the increase in pirating music.
“If you rob artists of their means of earning, eventually there will be no art of consequence or substance.” Goo Goo Dolls front man Johnny Rzeznik (in an interview with Billboard)
Not only is illegal downloading making it harder for artists to get into the music industry and causing prices in other aspects of the industry to increase, it’s stealing art. They are taking these songs that artists have worked so hard on and put their blood, sweat and tears into to get out there without paying for them. Musicians pour themselves into their music. Music, like any other form of art (paintings, photography, sculptures, etc…), is full of heart and soul. When you write a piece of music, you put a part of yourself into it and leave it all out there for the world to hear and relate to. Music is one of the most telling, raw, powerful ways to express yourself. I think that Mick Jagger said what I’m trying to say best in the lyrics to “It’s Only Rock and Roll”. “If I could stick a knife in my heart ,Suicide right on stage, Would it be enough for your teenage lust ,Would it help to ease the pain? Ease your brain?, If I could dig down deep in my heart, Feelings would flood on the page” You put every emotion you have inside of you out there, whether it is pain, sorrow, lust, love, happiness, anger, heartache or fear, baring your soul, for everyone to see. So, when people download your music illegally, they are essentially taking a piece of you. For free.
Illegal downloading is not only taking the profit from thousands of musicians all over the world, it’s stealing art and affecting new artist’s chances of making it in the industry. Yes, I agree that illegal downloading is exposing some bands and artists, but it is definitely doing more harm than good when it comes to the music industry and is having a harmful effect on many artists trying to work their way up and make a profit from their art. So, before you click download on a track you really like, think about how it will affect the artists who put their heart, soul, time and money into sharing a part of themselves with you and go out and purchase the cd, buy the vinyl, purchase the download on iTunes or Amazon. Just support the artist. Don’t steal from them.
*Now, we at Bitojava.com want to hear your opinion… What do you think about illegal downloading? How do you feel about how it affects the music industry? Email me at Jessica@bitojava.com , tweet us at : @bitojavajessica , or comment below. We will pick one response to receive a bag of our Bit O Java Coffee.
Johnny Rzeznik Quote :
Our interview with Tom Keifer:
Our interview with Jeff Rouse of The Guessing Game:
Our interview with Ryan Roxie:
Photos Courtesy of: Jessica Howell, Ryan Roxie, New Ocean Media (Doug Weber) & Chris Jordan
*Special Thanks to Ryan Roxie (Alice Cooper, Casablanca, Roxie 77 ) & Keith Ash (The Guessing Game)*
For more info on Ryan and The Motley Crue / Alice Cooper Final tour , Check out:
For more info on Keith and The Guessing Game’s upcoming album “Holy Crow”, check out:
Twitter: @GuessingGame5 & @KeithAsh