Monday, 13 April 2009

Music for free?

Piracy kills music! Does it? No doubt piracy violates someone's copyright, but on the other hand it is among the major stimuli for the energetic development of the festival/concert culture.

You remember the times when a single album managed to sell over 10 million copies for just half an year and constantly a new record in the music sales would be set? Well, obviously that was long time ago as internet piracy has become the painfully slow slayer of music as we used to know it. In some countries sales dropped as much as near 50%, which brought major changes in certification and what used to be silver is now considered as gold, or even worse - platinum. The global network allowed people to check for themselves the quality of a new release before deciding whether to give away money or not...especially when it comes to fresh names in the bizz. The whole buying culture rapidly changed for less than a decade and there is no doubt that sales will steadily be going down bringing many to their knees and probably at some point even bankruptcy!

If you were a singer whose sales have been anything but satisfying what drastic measures would you take? Take your time...don't rush the answer (Why not really think of a solution for the next few minutes?). Obviously many real performers and bands had quite a time pondering and many of them came to the conclusion that at some extent music has to be made available for free. Music for free? A blasphemy to ones, but a salvation to others. When people are not willing to pay for you music, you have to force things a little...or a lot. Anyone would love to have a free preview of your new stuff and decide for themselves whether they would open their wallets wide or will shut you out...either ways you will manage to draw some attention. The last few years have seen bands rising thanks to the internet community, which has a constant demand for new names on the block.

Blogs and social networks as Facebook or Twitter have allowed people to build a new music society which belongs to no labels, has never signed a contract and shares thousands of free tracks in exchange for other songs...I am not talking about piracy...I refer to absolutely 100% no-charge original music that you can download from MySpace, Blogger and even official websites. The trend is not just among struggling new groups or singers but goes as far as established bands as Nine Inch Nails or Radiohead, who distributed whole albums for free. I am pretty sure they have enough fans to buy those records, but in a world where more than 80% of all the music is downloaded illegally, playing stupid is not very original. For the time being the majority of record companies still pretend to be unaware of the situation and keep on printing as many as possible physical copies of albums and singles, but sooner or later they will have to realize that people nowadays are not what they used to be before internet went global.

Definitely sales will keep on dropping, thus creating a greater need for festivals and concerts, which supposedly will compensate most of the losses from poor market performances. More thoughts on the concert-is-my-salvation tendency soon to come!

Warning! This post is not an attempt to jusstify piracy and copyrights violations, it is just the same problem from a different angle! Music piracy is still illegal (for now)!

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