CD piracy…

So, 1 in 3 CDs sold worldwide is a pirate copy. I wonder how that stacks up against the percentages of money made by record companies vs artists. Are the pirates ripping off the labels more than the labels are ripping off the artists? I suspect not.

From the article –

“Jorgen Larsen, president of music producer Universal Music International, said the livelihood of the artists and music industry workers was at risk if piracy continued to rise.”

I think the livelihood of the artists is put more at risk by signing to Universal than it is from piracy. I very much doubt anyone is bootlegging my CDs. In fact, I’d be slightly flattered if they were. I’m sure there are some CDR copies kicking around, and I hope that they inspire the owners to turn up to gigs. There’s certainly enough MP3 material of mine around to make up a whole CD of extras (moreso if you’re in the street team), but people still buy the CDs, come to the gigs, and everything’s ticking along quite nicely. I’m certainly more scared of one day having a breakdown and accidentally signing a record deal than I am of discovering 100,000 copies of Grace And Gratitude for sale in a Delhi street market – in fact, if they did, I’d probably just go and do a gig there!

Perhaps the markup on CDs is to blaim? If the labels are still trying to charge £16 a CD to music buyers in India/China/Mexico etc, how on earth do they expect them to come up with that kind of money? Maybe they should look at ways of making it more attractive to buy the real thing, rather than just blaiming the pirates for filling a gap in the market. If the record companies weren’t so obviously rapacious in their dealings with artists, and such a rip-off in terms of what they charge the end user, then people might feel more generously disposed towards them. How about if they started to give away 20% of their profits to arts projects in developing countries?

No, instead they blame ‘organised crime’ – I’d be interested to see the evidence for this. It’s quite possible that ‘organised crime’ units are somehow involved, but it’s equally possible that there are a bunch of opportunists who see a gap in the market created by the greed of the majors.

It’s like the Metallica/Napster debacle – I, along with 10 million other people, found it very hard to feel much sympathy for the multi-millionaire Lars Ulrich in his claims that he was being ripped off by Napster. If every single item of Metallica merch was fair trade, if they were pressuring their record company to encourage staff to unionise and putting pressure on for fairer wages around the world, if they implimented a scheme in Metallica PLC where the top paid person could only earn 9 times what the lowest paid person could earn, I’d be feeling a little more generous towards his claims that kids in colleges downloading Metallica albums were destroying his livelihood.

SoundtrackAli Farka Toure with Ry Cooder, ‘Talking Timbuktu’ (heard a piece on Radio 4 last night about Ali, and dug out this CD again – fantastic stuff – brings back marvellous memories of sitting at Rick Turner‘s house in Santa Cruz, discovering amazing new music from around the world, and listening to Rick’s remarkable stories.)

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