quite a long time I've been intending to post some sort of commentary
on the music industry - piracy, distribution, morality, those
types of things. I've thought about it many times, but never gone
through with it, because the issue is such a broad, messy one
- such a difficult thing to address fairly and compactly. I knew
it would result in a rambly, unfocused commentary, and my exact
opinion has teetered back and forth quite a bit over the years
But on October 22, 2007, when I woke up to the news that Oink,
the world famous torrent site and mecca for music-lovers everywhere,
had been shut down by international police and various anti-piracy
groups, I knew it was finally time to try and organize my thoughts
on this huge, sticky, important issue.
the past eight years, I've worked on and off with major record
labels as a designer ("Major" is an important distinction here,
because major labels are an entirely different beast than many
indie labels - they're the ones with the power, and they are the
ones driving the industry-wide push against piracy).
It was 1999 when I got my first taste of the inner-workings of
a major record label - I was a young college student, and the
inside of a New York label office seemed so vast and exciting.
Dozens of worker bees hummed away at their desks on phones and
computers. Music posters and stacks of CDs littered every surface.
Everyone seemed to have an assistant, and the assistants had assistants,
and you couldn't help but wonder "what the hell do all
these people do?"
I tagged along on US$1,500 artist dinners paid for by the labels.
Massive bar tabs were regularly signed away by record label employees
with company cards. You got used to people billing as many expenses
back to the record company as they could. I met the type of jive,
middle-aged, blazer-wearing, coke-snorting, cartoon character
label bigwigs who you'd think were too cliche to exist outside
the confines of Spinal Tap. It was all strange and exciting,
but one thing that always resonated with me was the sheer volume
of money that seemed to be spent without any great deal of concern.
Whether it was excessive production budgets or "business lunches"
that had nothing to do with business, one of my first reactions
to it all was, "so this is why CDs cost $18..." An industry
of excess. But that's kind of what you expected from the music
business, right? It's where rock stars are made. It's where you
get stretch limos with hot tubs in the back, where you get private
jets and cocaine parties.
Growing up in the '80's, with pop royalty and hair metal bands,
you were kind of led to think, of course record labels
blow money left and right - there's just so much of it
to go around! Well, you know what they say: The bigger they are...
those days, "piracy" was barely even a word in the music world.
My friends and I traded MP3s in college over the local network,
but they were scattered and low-quality. It felt like a novelty
- like a digital version of duping a cassette tape - hardly a
replacement for CDs. CDs sounded good and you could bring
them with you in your DiscMan, and the only digital music you
could get was as good as your friends' CD collections, anyway.
It never occurred to any of us that digital files were the future.
But as it turned out, lots of kids, in lots of colleges around
the world, had the same idea of sharing MP3 files over their local
networks, and eventually, someone paid attention to that idea
and made Napster.
Suddenly, it was like all those college networks were tied together,
and you could find all this cool stuff online. It was easier and
more efficient than record stores, it was powered by music fans,
and, well, it was free. Suddenly you didn't have to pay 15 to
18 bucks for an album and hope it was good, you could download
some tracks off the internet and check it out first. But you still
always bought the CD if you liked it - I mean, who wants all their
music to be on the computer? I sure didn't. But increasingly,
more and more people did.
For college kids, Napster was a Godsend, because you can all but
guarantee two things about most college kids: They love music,
and they're dirt poor. So it grew, and it grew, and it started
to grow into the mainstream, and that's when the labels woke up
and realized something important was happening. At that point
they could have seen it as either a threat or an opportunity,
and they, without hesitation, determined it to be a threat.
It was a threat because essentially someone had come up with a
better, free distribution method for the labels' product.
To be fair, you can imagine how confusing this must have been
for them - is there even a historical precedent for an industry's
products suddenly being able to replicate and distribute on their
own, without cost?
was not only an absolute paradise for music fans, but it
was unquestionably the most complete and most efficient
music distribution model the world has ever known...
quite a while - long after most tech-savvy music lovers - I resisted
the idea of stealing music. Of course I would download
MP3s - I downloaded a lot of stuff - but I would always
make sure to buy the physical CD if it was something I liked.
I knew a lot of musicians, a lot of them bewildered at what was
happening to the industry they used to understand. People were
downloading their music en masse, gorging on this new frontier
like pigs at a trough - and, worst of all, they felt entitled
to do so.
It was like it was okay simply because the technology existed
that made it possible. But it wasn't okay - I mean, let's
face it, no matter how you rationalized it, it was stealing,
and because the technology existed to hotwire a car didn't make
that okay, either. The artists lost control of distribution:
They couldn't present albums the way they wanted to, in a package
with nice artwork. They couldn't reveal it the way they wanted
to, because music pirates got the albums online well before the
actual release date. Control had been taken away from everyone
who used to have it.
It was a scary time in unfamiliar territory, where suddenly music
fans became enemies to the artists and companies they had supported
for years. It led to laughable hyperbole from bands like Metallica,
instantly the poster-children of cry-baby rich rock stars, and
the beginning of the image problem the industry has faced in its
handling of the piracy issue.
But still, at the time, I understood where they were coming from.
Most musicians weren't rich like Metallica, and needed all the
album sales they could get for both income and label support.
Plus, it was their art, and they had created it - why shouldn't
they be able to control how it's distributed, just because some
snotty, acne-faced internet kids had found a way to cheat the
system? And these entitled little internet brats, don't they realize
that albums cost money to create, and to produce, and to
promote? How is there going to be any new music if no one's paying
top of that, I couldn't get into the idea of an invisible music
library that lives on my computer. Where's the artwork? Where's
my collection? I want the booklet, the packaging... I want
shelves and shelves of albums that I've spent years collecting,
that I can pore over and impress my friends with... I want to
flip through the pages, and hold the CD in my hand... Being a
kid who got into music well past the days of vinyl, CDs were all
I had, and they still felt important to me.
a few short years, the aggressive push of technology combined
with the arrogant response from the record industry has rapidly
worn away all of my noble intentions of clinging to the old system,
and has now pushed me into full-on dissent. I find myself fully
immersed in digital music, almost never buying CDs, and fully
against the methods of the major record labels and the RIAA. And
I think it would do the music industry a lot of good to pay attention
to why - because I'm just one of millions, and there will be millions
more in the years to come. And it could have happened very, very
the years have passed, and technology has made digital files the
most convenient, efficient, and attractive method of listening
to music for many people, the rules and cultural perceptions regarding
music have changed drastically.
We live in the iPod generation - where a "collection" of clunky
CDs feels archaic - where the uniqueness of your music collection
is limited only by how eclectic your taste is. Where it's embraced
and expected that if you like an album, you send it to your friend
to listen to. Whether this guy likes it or not, iPods have become
synonymous with music - and if I filled my shiny new 160gb iPod
up legally, buying each track online at the 99 cents price that
the industry has determined, it would cost me about $32,226.
How does that make sense? It's the ugly truth the record
industry wants to ignore as they struggle to find ways to get
people to pay for music in a culture that has already embraced
the idea of music being something you collect in large volumes,
and trade freely with your friends.
result is something purely for, by, and in service of the
music fan. And it actually helps musicians - file-sharing
is "the greatest marketing tool ever to come along for the
is the key word, because it didn't have to be this way, and that's
become the main source of my utter lack of sympathy for the dying
record industry: They had a chance to move forward, to evolve
with technology and address the changing needs of consumers -
and they didn't.
Instead, they panicked - they showed their hand as power-hungry
dinosaurs, and they started to demonize their own customers, the
people whose love of music had given them massive profits for
decades. They used their unfair record contracts - the ones that
allowed them to own all the music - and went after children, grandparents,
single moms, even deceased great grandmothers - alongside many
other common people who did nothing more than download some songs
and leave them in a shared folder - something that has become
the cultural norm to the iPod generation.
Joining together in what has been referred to as an illegal cartel
and using the RIAA as their attack dogs, the record labels have
spent billions of dollars attempting to scare people away from
downloading music. And it's simply not working. The pirating community
continues to out-smart and out-innovate the dated methods of the
record companies, and CD sales continue to plummet while exchange
of digital music on the internet continues to skyrocket.
Why? Because freely-available music in large quantities is
the new cultural norm, and the industry has given consumers no
fair alternative. They didn't jump in when the new technologies
were emerging and think, "how can we capitalize on this to ensure
that we're able to stay afloat while providing the customer what
they've come to expect?"
They didn't band together and create a flat monthly fee for downloading
all the music you want. They didn't respond by drastically lowering
the prices of CDs (which have been ludicrously overpriced since
day one, and actually increased in price during the '90s),
or by offering low-cost DRM-free legal MP3 purchases. Their entry
into the digital marketplace was too little too late - a precedent
of free, high-quality, DRM-free music had already been set.
seem to be a lot of reasons why the record companies blew it.
One is that they're really not very smart. They know how to do
one thing, which is sell records in a traditional retail environment.
From personal experience I can tell you that the big labels are
beyond clueless in the digital world - their ideas are out-dated,
their methods make no sense, and every decision is hampered by
miles and miles of legal tape, copyright restrictions, and corporate
Trying to innovate with a major label is like trying to teach
your Grandmother how to play Halo 3: frustrating and ultimately
futile. The easiest example of this is how much of a fight it's
been to get record companies to sell MP3s DRM-free. You're trying
to explain a new technology to an old guy who made his fortune
in the hair metal days. You're trying to tell him that when someone
buys a CD, it has no DRM - people can encode it into their computer
as DRM-free MP3s within seconds, and send it to all their friends.
So why insult the consumer by making them pay the same price for
copy-protected MP3s? It doesn't make any sense! It just frustrates
people and drives them to piracy! They don't get it: "It's
an MP3, you have to protect it or they'll copy it." But they can
do the same thing with the CDs you already sell!! Legal tape and
lots of corporate bullshit. If these people weren't the ones who
owned the music, it'd all be over already, and we'd be enjoying
the real future of music. Because like with any new industry,
it's not the people from the previous generation who are going
to step in and be the innovators. It's a new batch.
are a good example: It used to be that people read newspapers
to get the news. That was the distribution method, and newspaper
companies controlled it. You paid for a newspaper, and you got
your news, that's how it worked. Until the internet came along,
and a new generation of innovative people created websites, and
suddenly anyone could distribute information, and they
could distribute it faster, better, more efficiently, and for
Obviously this hurt the newspaper industry, but there was nothing
they could do about it, because they didn't own the information
itself - only the distribution method. Their only choice was to
innovate and find ways to compete in a new marketplace. And you
know what? Now I can get live, up-to-the-minute news for free,
on thousands of different sources across the internet - and
The New York Times still exists. Free market capitalism at
its finest. It's not a perfect example, but it is a part of how
the internet is changing every form of traditional media.
beauty of Oink was how fans willingly and hyper-efficiently
took on distribution roles that traditionally have cost
labels millions of dollars. Music lovers have shown that
they're much more willing to put time and effort into music
than they are money.
happened with newspapers, it's happening now with music, and TV
and cell phones are next on the chopping block. In all cases technology
demands that change will happen, it's just a matter of
who will find ways to take advantage of it, and who won't.
newspapers, record companies own the distribution and the
product being distributed, so you can't just start your own website
where you give out music that they own - and that's what this
is all about: distribution. Lots of pro-piracy types argue
that music can be free because people will always love music,
and they'll pay for concert tickets, and merchandise, and the
marketplace will shift and artists will survive.
Well, yes, that might be an option for some artists, but that
does nothing to help the record labels, because they don't
make any money off of merchandise, or concert tickets. Distribution
and ownership are what they control, and those are the
two things piracy threatens. The few major labels left are parts
of giant media conglomerations - owned by huge parent companies
for whom artists and albums are just numbers on a piece of paper.
It's why record companies shove disposable pop crap down your
throat instead of nurturing career artists: because they have
CEOs and shareholders to answer to, and those people don't give
a shit if a really great band has the potential to get
really successful, if given the right support over the next decade.
They see that Gwen Stefani's latest musical turd sold millions,
because parents of 12-year-old girls still buy music for their
kids, and the parent company demands more easy-money pop garbage
that will be forgotten about next month.
The only thing that matters to these corporations is profit -
period. Music isn't thought of as an art form, as it was in the
earlier days of the industry where labels were started by music-lovers
- it's a product, pure and simple. And many of these corporations
also own the manufacturing plants that create the CDs, so they
make money on all sides - and lose money even from legal
the top of all this is the rigged, outdated, and unfair structure
of current intellectual property laws, all of them in need of
massive reform in the wake of the digital era. These laws allow
the labels to maintain their stranglehold on music copyrights,
and they allow the RIAA to sue the pants off any file-sharing
grandmother they please.
Since the labels are owned by giant corporations with a great
deal of money, power, and political influence, the RIAA is able
to lobby politicians and government agencies to manipulate copyright
laws for their benefit. The result is absurdly disproportionate
fines, and laws that in some cases make file sharing a heftier
charge than armed robbery. This is yet another case of private,
corporate interests using political influence to turn laws in
the opposite direction of the changing values of the people.
Or, as this very smart assessment from a record executive described
it: "a clear case of a multinational conglomerate using its political
muscle to the disadvantage of everyone but itself." But shady
political maneuvers and scare tactics are all the RIAA and other
anti-piracy groups have left, because people who download music
illegally now number in the hundreds of millions, and they
can't sue everyone. At this point they're just trying to
hold up what's left of the dam before it bursts open. Their latest
victim is Oink, a popular torrent site specializing in music.
you're not familiar with Oink, here's a quick summary: Oink was
was a free members-only site - to join it you had to be invited
by a member. Members had access to an unprecedented community-driven
database of music. Every album you could ever imagine was just
one click away. Oink's extremely strict quality standards ensured
that everything on the site was at pristine quality - 192kbps
MP3 was their bare minimum, and they championed much higher quality
MP3s as well as FLAC lossless downloads.
They encouraged logs to verify that the music had been ripped
from the CD without any errors. Transcodes - files encoded from
other encoded files, resulting in lower quality - were strictly
forbidden. You were always guaranteed higher quality music than
iTunes or any other legal MP3 store.
Oink's strict download/share ratio ensured that every album in
their vast database was always well-seeded, resulting in downloads
faster than anywhere else on the internet. A 100mb album would
download in mere seconds on even an average broadband connection.
Oink was known for getting pre-release albums before anyone else
on the internet, often months before they hit retail - but they
also had an extensive catalogue of music dating back decades,
fueled by music lovers who took pride in uploading rare gems from
their collection that other users were seeking out.
there was an album you couldn't find on Oink, you only had
to post a request for it, and wait for someone who had it
to fill your request. Even if the request was extremely
rare, Oink's vast network of hundreds of thousands of music-lovers
eager to contribute to the site usually ensured you wouldn't
have to wait long.
there was an album you couldn't find on Oink, you only had to
post a request for it, and wait for someone who had it to fill
your request. Even if the request was extremely rare, Oink's vast
network of hundreds of thousands of music-lovers eager to contribute
to the site usually ensured you wouldn't have to wait long.
this sense, Oink was not only an absolute paradise for music fans,
but it was unquestionably the most complete and most efficient
music distribution model the world has ever known. I say that
safely without exaggeration. It was like the world's largest music
store, whose vastly superior selection and distribution was entirely
stocked, supplied, organized, and expanded upon by its own consumers.
If the music industry had found a way to capitalize on the power,
devotion, and innovation of its own fans the way Oink did, it
would be thriving right now instead of withering.
If intellectual property laws didn't make Oink illegal, the site's
creator would be the new Steve Jobs right now. He would have revolutionized
music distribution. Instead, he's a criminal, simply for finding
the best way to fill rising consumer demand. I would have gladly
paid a large monthly fee for a legal service as good as Oink -
but none existed, because the music industry could never set aside
their own greed and corporate bullshit to make it happen.
an interesting aside: The RIAA loves to complain about music pirates
leaking albums onto the internet before they're released in stores
- painting the leakers as vicious pirates dead set on attacking
their enemy, the music industry.
But you know where music leaks from? From the fucking source,
of course - the labels! At this point, most bands know that once
their finished album is sent off to the label, the risk of it
turning up online begins, because the labels are full of low-level
workers who happen to be music fans who can't wait to share the
band's new album with their friends. If the album manages to not
leak directly from the label, it is guaranteed to leak
once it heads off to manufacturing.
Someone at the manufacturing plant is always happy to sneak off
with a copy, and before long, it turns up online. Why? Because
people love music, and they can't wait to hear their favorite
band's new album! It's not about profit, and it's not about maliciousness.
So record industry, maybe if you could protect your own assets
a little better, shit wouldn't leak - don't blame the fans who
flock to the leaked material online, blame the people who leak
it out of your manufacturing plants in the first place!
But assuming that's a hole too difficult to plug, it begs the
question, "why don't labels adapt to the changing nature of distribution
by selling new albums online as soon as they're finished, before
they have a chance to leak, and release the physical CDs a couple
Well, for one, labels are still obsessed with Billboard chart
numbers - they're obsessed with determining the market value of
their product by how well it fares in its opening week. Selling
it online before the big retail debut, before they've had months
to properly market the product to ensure success, would mess up
those numbers (nevermind that those numbers mean absolutely
Additionally, selling an album online before it hits stores makes
retail outlets (who are also suffering in all this) angry, and
retail outlets have far more power than they should. For example,
if a record company releases an album online but Wal-Mart won't
have the CD in their stores for another two months (because it
needs to be manufactured), Wal-Mart gets mad.
Who cares if Wal-Mart gets mad, you ask? Well, record companies
do, because Wal-Mart is, both mysteriously and tragically, the
largest music retailer in the world. That means they have power,
and they can say "if you sell Britney Spears' album online before
we can sell it in our stores, we lose money. So if you do that,
we're not going to stock her album at all, and then you'll lose
a LOT of money." That kind of greedy business bullshit happens
all the time in the record industry, and the consistent result
is a worse experience for consumers and music lovers.
is why Oink was so great - take away all the rules and legal ties,
all the ownership and profit margins, and naturally, the result
is something purely for, by, and in service of the music fan.
And it actually helps musicians - file-sharing is "the
greatest marketing tool ever to come along for the music industry."
even better will rise out of Oink's ashes, and the RIAA
will respond with more lawsuits, and the cycle will repeat
itself over and over until the industry has finally bled
itself to death. And then everything will be able to change.
of Oink's best features was how it allowed users to connect similar
artists, and to see what people who liked a certain band also
liked. Similar to Amazon's recommendation system, it was possible
to spend hours discovering new bands on Oink, and that's what
many of its users did. Through sites like Oink, the amount and
variety of music I listen to has skyrocketed, opening me up to
hundreds of artists I never would have experienced otherwise.
I'm now fans of their music, and I may not have bought their CDs,
but I would have never bought their CD anyway, because I would
have never heard of them!
And now that I have heard of them, I go to their concerts,
and I talk them up to my friends, and give my friends the music
to listen to for themselves, so they can go to the concerts, and
tell their friends, and so on. Oink was a network of music lovers
sharing and discovering music. And yes, it was all technically
illegal, and destined to get shut down, I suppose. But it's not
so much that they shut Oink down that boils my blood, it's the
fucking bullshit propaganda they put out there.
If the industry tried to have some kind of compassion -
if they said, "we understand that these are just music fans trying
to listen to as much music as they can, but we have to protect
our assets, and we're working on an industry-wide solution to
accommodate the changing needs of music fans"...
Well, it's too late for that, but it would be encouraging. Instead,
they make it sound like they busted a Columbian drug cartel or
something. They describe it as a highly-organized piracy ring.
Like Oink users were distributing kiddie porn or some shit. The
press release says: "This was not a case of friends sharing music
for pleasure." Wh - what?? That's EXACTLY what it was!
No one made any money on that site - there were no ads, no registration
fees. The only currency was ratio - the amount you shared with
other users - a brilliant way of turning "free" into a sort of
The anti-piracy groups have tried to spin the notion that you
had to pay a fee to join Oink, which is NOT true - donations were
voluntary, and went to support the hosting and maintenance of
the site. If the donations spilled into profit for the guy who
ran the site, well he damn well deserved it - he created something
the next question is, what now?
the major labels, it's over. It's fucking over. You're going to
burn to the fucking ground, and we're all going to dance around
the fire. And it's your own fault. Surely, somewhere deep
inside, you had to know this day was coming, right? Your very
industry is founded on an unfair business model of owning
art you didn't create in exchange for the services you provide.
It's rigged so that you win every time - even if the artist does
well, you do ten times better. It was able to exist because you
controlled the distribution, but now that's back in the hands
of the people, and you let the ball drop when you could have evolved.
of this is to say that there's no way for artists to make money
anymore, or even that it's the end of record labels. It's just
the end of record labels as we know them. A lot of people
point to the Radiohead model as the future, but Radiohead is only
dipping its toe into the future to test the waters. What at first
seemed like a rainbow-colored revolution has now been openly revealed
as a marketing gimmick: Radiohead was "experimenting," releasing
a low-quality MP3 version of an album only to punish the fans
who paid for it by later releasing a full-quality CD version
with extra tracks.
According to Radiohead's manager: "If we didn't believe that
when people hear the music they will want to buy the CD then we
wouldn't do what we are doing." Ouch. Radiohead was moving
in the right direction, but if they really want to start a revolution,
they need to place the "pay-what-you-want" digital album on the
same content and quality level as the "pay-what-we-want"
I don't know what the future model is going to be - I think all
the current pieces of the puzzle will still be there, but they
need to be re-ordered, and the rules need to be changed. Maybe
record labels of the future exist to help front recording costs
and promote artists, but they don't own the music. Maybe
music is free, and musicians make their money from touring and
merchandise, and if they need a label, the label takes a percentage
of their tour and merch profits. Maybe all-digital record companies
give bands all the tools they need to sell their music directly
to their fans, taking a small percentage for their services. In
any case, the artists own their own music.
used to reject the wishy-washy "music should be free!" mantra
of online music thieves. I knew too much about the intricacies
and economics of it, of the rock-and-a-hard-place situation many
artists were in with their labels. I thought there were plenty
of new ways to sell music that would be fair to all parties involved.
But I no longer believe that, because the squabbling, backwards,
greedy, ownership-obsessed major labels will never let it happen,
and that's more clear to me now than ever.
So maybe music has to be free. Maybe taking the money out of
music is the only way to get money back into it. Maybe it's
time to abandon the notion of the rock star - of music as a route
to fame and fortune. The best music was always made by people
who weren't in it for the money, anyway. Maybe smart, talented
musicians will find ways to make a good living with or without
CD sales. Maybe the record industry execs who made their fortunes
off of unfair contracts and distribution monopolies should just
walk away, confident that they milked a limited opportunity for
all it was worth, and that it's time to find fortune somewhere
Maybe in the hands of consumers, the music marketplace will expand
in new and lucrative ways no one can even dream of yet. We won't
know until music is free, and eventually it's going to be. Technological
innovation destroys old industries, but it creates new ones. You
can't fight it forever.
the walls finally come down, we're in what will inevitably be
looked back on as a very awkward, chaotic period in music history
- fans are being arrested for sharing the music they love, and
many artists are left helpless, unable to experiment with new
business models because they're locked into record contracts with
what can you and I do to help usher in the brave new world? The
beauty of Oink was how fans willingly and hyper-efficiently took
on distribution roles that traditionally have cost labels millions
of dollars. Music lovers have shown that they're much more willing
to put time and effort into music than they are money. It's time
to show artists that there's no limit to what an energized online
fanbase can accomplish, and all they'll ever ask for in return
is more music. And it's time to show the labels that they missed
a huge opportunity by not embracing these opportunities
when they had the chance.
Stop buying music from major labels. Period. The only way
to force change is to hit the labels where it hurts - their profits.
The major labels are like Terry Schiavo right now - they're on
life support, drooling in a coma, while white-haired guys in suits
try and change the laws to keep them alive. But any rational person
can see that it's too late, and it's time to pull out the feeding
In this case, the feeding tube is your money. Find out which labels
are members/supporters of the RIAA and similar copyright enforcement
groups, and don't support them in any way. The RIAA Radar is a
great tool to help you with this. Don't buy CDs, don't buy iTunes
downloads, don't buy from Amazon, etc. Steal the music you want
that's on the major labels. It's easy, and despite the RIAA's
scare tactics, it can be done safely - especially if more and
more people are doing it.
Send letters to those labels, and to the RIAA, explaining very
calmly and professionally that you will no longer be supporting
their business, because of their bullish scare tactics towards
music fans, and their inability to present a forward-thinking
digital distribution solution. Tell them you believe their business
model is outdated and the days of companies owning artists' music
are over. Make it very clear that you will continue to support
the artists directly in other ways, and make it VERY clear that
your decision has come about as a direct result of the record
company's actions and inactions regarding digital music.
Support artists directly. If a band you like is stuck on a
major label, there are tons of ways you can support them without
actually buying their CD. Tell everyone you know about them -
start a fansite if you're really passionate. Go to their shows
when they're in town, and buy t-shirts and other merchandise.
Here's a little secret: Anything a band sells that does not have
music on it is outside the reach of the record label, and monetarily
supports the artist more than buying a CD ever would. T-shirts,
posters, hats, keychains, stickers, etc.
Send the band a letter telling them that you're no longer going
to be purchasing their music, but you will be listening
to it, and you will be spreading the word and supporting them
in other ways. Tell them you've made this decision because you're
trying to force change within the industry, and you no longer
support record labels with RIAA affiliations who own the music
of their artists.
you like bands who are releasing music on open, non-RIAA indie
labels, buy their albums! You'll support the band you like, and
you'll support hard-working, passionate people at small, forward-thinking
music labels. If you like bands who are completely independent
and are releasing music on their own, support them as much as
possible! Pay for their music, buy their merchandise, tell all
your friends about them and help promote them online - prove that
a network of passionate fans is the best promotion a band can
Get the message out. Get this message out to as many people
as you can - spread the word on your blog or your MySpace, and
more importantly, tell your friends at work, or your family members,
people who might not be as tuned into the internet as you are.
Teach them how to use torrents, show them where to go to get music
for free. Show them how to support artists while starving the
labels, and who they should and shouldn't be supporting.
Get political. The fast-track to ending all this nonsense
is changing intellectual property laws. The RIAA lobbies politicians
to manipulate copyright laws for their own interests, so voters
need to lobby politicians for the peoples' interests. Contact
your local representatives and senators. Tell them politely and
articulately that you believe copyright laws no longer reflect
the interests of the people, and you will not vote for them if
they support the interests of the RIAA.
Encourage them to draft legislation that helps change the outdated
laws and disproportionate penalties the RIAA champions. Contact
information for state representatives can be found here, and contact
information for senators can be found here. You can email them,
but calling on the phone or writing them actual letters is always
with Oink gone, I find myself wondering where I'll go now to discover
new music. All the other options - particularly the legal
ones - seem depressing by comparison. I wonder how long it will
be before everyone can legally experience the type of music
nirvana Oink users became accustomed to?
I'm not too worried - something even better will rise out of Oink's
ashes, and the RIAA will respond with more lawsuits, and the cycle
will repeat itself over and over until the industry has finally
bled itself to death. And then everything will be able to change,
and it will be in the hands of musicians and fans and a new generation
of entrepreneurs to decide how the new record business
is going to work.
Whether you agree with it or not, it's fact. It's inevitable -
because the determination of fans to share music is much, much
stronger than the determination of corporations to stop it.
Note: The above was posted on http://www.demonbaby.com/blog.