Open Mic – Is This Bullshit?

One day, you could be downloading some of the hottest songs off the Internet to make a ‘Party Mix’ CD. The next day, there could be a lawyer knocking at your door with a subpoena for you to appear in court for online piracy. The only thought in your mind (aside from “This is bullshit”) would probably be, “Shouldn’t I be allowed to download music for free without being sued?”

Although the Recording Industry of America Association (RIAA) is starting to crackdown on file swappers, there is only one man who can take credit for starting a revolution of MP3 File Sharing: Shawn Fanning. Shawn Fanning was just a normal college student at Northeastern University, but created a place where he and his friends could exchange MP3 files to one another. What eventually happened was the modern-day success called Napster. Napster is probably the most known File Sharing Service that has ever been seen. When artists (Lars Ulrich and Dr. Dre) and the RIAA tried shutting down Napster, more music services opened up, like Audiogalaxy, Morpheus, Kazaa, Bearshare, and Limewire, just to name a few. Due to the constant threats of being sued, some of these music services are willing to play by a few rules, by asking for money for downloading music, but is that enough to keep artists and the RIAA from taking everything you own?

Bottom line is that by downloading music for free, recording artists, record labels and copyright companies (like the RIAA) are strongly offended. One reason is it takes away the element of surprise. How so? There are many performers who say that they like to shock their audience with their unreleased songs and give away special items, but with file sharing services offering swapping of almost any files (music, movies, photos, etc.), the “shock value” completely disappears. What I can’t seem to figure out is even if someone were to download a tune, video, or picture that was surprising, wouldn’t he or she have the same exact thought(s) if it were to be released at a later date? Another huge grudge that composers have is by getting music for free, people are taking away money from the artists. This argument is totally understandable because if someone were to write, publish, and perform an act, then that person should be entitled to rights. What seems fishy about this is although companies say that downloaders are taking money away from the industry, the numbers show that there is actually an increase in record sales since File Sharing Services have surfaced. Also, band’s first week numbers have never been better. Limp Bizkit sold over a million copies of their “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water” in its’ first week. N’SYNC set a Soundscan record for most albums sold in one week, with their 2000 effort, “No Strings Attached,” moving over 2.4 million copies. Queens rapper, 50 Cent sold over 800,000 units in his opening week. One has to wonder that if labels, artists, and companies claim they’re losing money, is it really just an unsupported excuse? The most valid argument they have is downloading music, movies, and photos are illegal: it’s called copyright infringement. Sure, this may be criminal, but isn’t public intoxication, prank phone calls (harassment), smoking marijuana (drugs), and prostitution illegal as well? Those are all characteristics in the lives of rock stars. I’m not saying that every rock star does this, but a great majority either pursue these illegal activities or activities related to this sort. Don’t celebrities know whether they like it or not, that society makes them role models? Shouldn’t they be setting an example for others?

On the other side of the coin, file swappers feel that they have a God-given right to exchange music through the Internet. Some people feel that they should be allowed to get music off the net for free because they believe recording artists make a ton of dough. They have the mentality, “So, I’m not buying the album. What’s a few bucks going to do? They’re rich anyways.” This isn’t entirely true. In a recent interview with MTV for a special program, Good Charlotte (widely known punk rock band) stated they weren’t rich. When thinking about any music group, some people fail to take into account the use of money. When a record label signs a recording artist(s), the band usually gets a low percentage of the album sales (I believe the norm is for every album sold, they group gets eight cents). With the money gained, they have to pay their manager, tour bus, gas, motels, sets, meals, public relations and (but not limited to) marketing. Some of the most successful music groups have even gone bankrupt (remember TLC)? Some fans download tunes just because they want to hear what an artist has to offer. If someone were to download a couple of songs and really liked them, not only will that individual be heavily interested in the artist, but would probably purchase the album, DVDs, concert tickets, and memorabilia. On the other hand though, you have the really cheap people who cry poor and refuse to do that, although they would be extremely happy to burn the whole album to a blank CD, laughing away because they “screwed the group out of buying the album.” It’s sad to see that those people feel the need that the entertainment industry owes them something. There is a lot of creativity, diversity, and messages being thrown out in the forms of audible and visual art that draws people in. Artists do this stuff out of love, but it seems that there are some people who want to be selfish and steal every chance they get. But hey, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Even though there is a hot debate on whether downloading music should be free or not, some artists don’t mind it at all. Dave Grohl (of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame) was on HBO and even said, “It doesn’t bother me. Just because people download my music, I won’t be at a huge loss. I’ll still be able to eat in the morning.” I even remember Napster funding a free tour, which featured Limp Bizkit and Cypress Hill in 2000. Napster even gave the fans free pizza and drinks. Other artists like the Offspring, Rage Against The Machine, and Dave Matthews have shown support to the File Sharing Services.

Although there are unlawful ways to acquire music, there are lots of ways to do it legally and for free. iTunes has teamed up with Pepsi and one out of every three bottle caps wins the Pepsi drinker free song to download. Also, there are a lot of groups who post their songs on their website to be heard by web users. The reasoning behind this is fairly simple: the band wants to get their name out in the world. One interesting thing is even though Napster closed down, it is back on the market, however, tunes aren’t free. To download a song, it costs one dollar.

Today, we live in a society where we are consumed by the almighty dollar. Whether it is the recording artists who are trying to make a buck, the businessmen trying to keep their buck, or the fans that are trying to con them out of a buck, what it all boils down to is selfish propaganda. The only question left to ask is if this is bullshit.

{Please post a comment}

15 thoughts on “Open Mic – Is This Bullshit?”

  1. My thoughts are that “File Sharing” as you so greatly put it, is ok. The points that the Artists are mad that the people are taking away from their profit is more or less crap. Eight out of Ten people will download one song from an album, the single because its the most known and its the best one, if infact they like this song more or less they will quite possibly go out and by the freaking album in the end to hear the rest of the CD because other then the single most of the songs aren’t really known unless you pick up the cd or do research on one stupid fucking cd like a little cyber nerd. Also more times then none the quality of the songs aren’t as par as the CD version, which makes you think that, if the people like the songs…wouldn’t they want to hear the songs to their fullest? Now yes there are some really good quality stuff but that’s not always the case. Good Article Man 10/10

  2. Bear posted a good article about a topic that has sprung a well of controversy in society. He dealt with it in a mature manner, seeing all sides and leaving the debate to be decided in courts. Very good and I hope to see more from him in the future.

  3. hey yo man ur right we should be able to down load stuff for free and people not get a stick up there ass for not making any moeny off of it honest people just care for money and that is bullshit man people should have the right to do as they please but there are limits but we should still be able to downlod what we want ya know alright later

  4. Definitely a well written article. Professional quality. Even though I don’t think about the RIAA one way or the other, it was still a great read due to the solid order the facts were presented in.

  5. I don’t know, it’s a double edged sword really. Me personally, if I download a song and I like it I’ll buy the album. I spend more money than I should on CDs, which my girlfriend and bank account could both vouch for. I would say that probably 3 out of every 5 CD’s I have bought has been because I was able to download a song and check out a new band. So in that respect, file sharing has helped the music industry. How many of those albums would I have bought if I couldn’t have checked out a song or two by the band?

    On the other hand, there’s plenty of people out there who will download a complete album, burn it and be done with it. Bam, they’ve got a new CD and only forked over the cost of a blank CD. Those are the people who the music industry should be worried about. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to weed out those people from the people who download to check out a new band.

    Great article Bear, very well written.

  6. Very nice column, Bear. Thanks for giving my band (DMB) the props they deserve. I loved your point about how music pushes lawlessness with lyrics and image while trying to get us to be perfect little consumers.

    I don’t get these “scruples” that radio executives seem to refer to. What, it’s okay to make a product and sell it for 36 times it’s cost, but if somebody doesn’t want to buy into it, they’re stealing? Maybe the record executives are right, and maybe by downloading files I’m commiting some sin. Then again, Nickelback, IMHO, is a sin, so when I download songs instead of giving them money… I’m evening up the score in a way.

    Anyways, great article as always. You got mad skillz, yo!

  7. all i can say is that i agree with what Bear F’N Fraiser is saying. He is the man and i agree that it should be free to download music. If not then why are we able to download things in computer class for class. I think is crazy not to be able to down load music for free.

  8. Ever since I sarted downloading/burning music, I’ve been able to attend more shows. Now they can visually see my support. If CDs weren’t so effing expensive, maybe I’d buy some here and there and burn others, but the prices are ridiculous.

  9. Oh Honey I’m so proud!

    Wonderful article. You presented both sides of the argument extremely well. Most of the time when people write about this they push their side and give the other side no light but you handled this beautifully.

    once again..awsome article

  10. Jaz, if you go to the right places(indie stores, record label/band sites) you can get CDs for $10 to $12. To me, that’s not too much to ask for a CD.

  11. The moral dilemna of filesharing is extremely difficult, as artists claim it is theft, which it is, and some claim that it’s the record company’s greed that is the problem and that they fuck artists out of money anyway, and that is the real problem. Both sides are ok, but I just had a couple points I wanted to make.

    I feel like, as filesharing is literally breaking the law, we should accept any punishment coming to us. I’m not saying I don’t file share or anything, I definitely do, but if I got a subpoena, I would stop and realize the party is over. It’s like speeding, everyone does it, you hardly ever get caught, but when you do get pulled over do you complain to the cop that everyone else is doing it? No, because you realize you were committing an illegal act. That’s how I think of file-sharing, it’s a pleasurable, harmless maybe maybe not thing to do like speeding, underage drinking, or smoking weed, but when you get caught you have to face whatever consequences you’re dealt.

    A sidenote to all those who use filesharing to sample artists to see if they want to buy their cd, more bands than not offer free mp3’s or even stream entire albums on their website these days, which is definitely not an option to pass up for those who want to be legal.

  12. Amazon.com also features samples of music too. Usually they’ve got a few songs per album that you can stream.

  13. I really enjoyed the topic Bear as it’s something that i’m sure we can all related to.

    Personally if i was artist i think i would be pissed if i’m pouring my soul into music for it to be downloaded for nothing on the net, however there are a countless number of CDs in my collection i would not have bought if i wasn’t given the opportunity to download and sample first such as all my CKY, HIM, Killswitch Engage, KoRn etc etc

    Basically being able to download music has broken the boundaries of my musical taste and allowed me to be openminded about what i will listen to, without file-sharing i really wouldn’t listen to any of my now favourite bands and would be forced by the hand of marketing executives to listen to commercialized garbage ( hi Britney!)

    So, file-sharing has to stay

  14. File sharing… good or bad? Honestly, I think it’s a good thing. Artists shouldn’t be bitching about their music being passed around the internet like a bunch of Magic cards. Obviously they’re losing out on some money, but don’t you think they make it up in album sales, concert attendance, merchandise, autograph signings, special appearances, etc? I think it’s ridiculous how some artists act towards file sharing. In reality, their music that’s being distributed over programs like KaZaa or Napster, when it was free, are more than likely helping them sell records. Who wants to go out and buy an album that they’ve only heard one song off of? I sure as hell don’t, because for all I know, this group maybe a one hit wonder and the rest of their album blows ass.

    (Sigh)

    Great article over all Bearmon; I totally agree with you. I do recall the conversation we had before this article was up, so you know my thoughts on the entire subject. Just figured I’d throw in a bit up above. Keep up the good work, dude.

  15. i could rant on this one either way but i honestly don’t feel like making my arguments.

    As i was telling bear, one major fact is way wrong, record sales have dropped majorly since filesharing started.

    Great article otherwise though, i would have like to have read more about the legal downloading services though.

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