Featured Artist Coalition Backs Lily. "WTF?" Says Everyone Else.

So, after initially recognising the truth that Lily Allens position on file-sharing her pro-Mandelson notion that ‘persistent file-sharers’ should have their internet connections cut off/crippled – was nonsense, they’ve now turned round and said, “ah no, see when Lily was talking like a complete loony? yeah, we’re all about that now. Rock on, with your Machiavellian internet snooping!” Here’s a link to their statement on it.

So the group that were supposedly there to represent ‘artists’ in all this are trying to take away the best free option for artists to be discovered. To place it back in the hands of those who would charge a fortune for the service of trying to get your music out to an audience, in the hope that they’ll pay for it in the end. Those services – none of which are performance related (you don’t get a refund on a magazine ad if everyone ignores it) are the good guys, and your fans getting excited about what you do and getting their friends to listen to it is a bad idea.

I’m a big fan of some of the artists who signed the list and pretty good friends with some others – but I don’t think they could be more wrong, misguided, dim, ill-conceived, stupid, moronic, self-defeating. For example:

  • How is this monitored?
  • Have they thought about just how easy it is to hide your IP?

Have they thought about:

  • the cost of monitoring this stuff,
  • cross referencing it against lists of stuff that is actually legal to be added to file sharing sites,
  • checking the terms of any licensing agreements to make sure the tracks in question aren’t legal,
  • repairing broken metadata (will they be able to find a Billy Bragg album that I make available on bit torrent if I call it a “steve lawson demo collection”, but send an email to my mates telling them what it really is so they can grab it?)

It’s unenforceable, ludicrous, and just sets up more lines for the people who design  this software – who are WAYYYY cleverer than you – to cross. This shit is easy to get round, all you do is set yourself up as someone who’s more concerned about regulation than you are about connecting with your audience. The only people that will benefit from this are the people who run the agencies set up to monitor traffic, and the much cleverer people who will be finding ways round it.

I’ve said it before but indie artists are massively under-represented on torrenting sites. Why is that? Because people are in touch with us, and are less likely to anonymously share the music of their friends. Make friends with your audience, and this stuff evens itself out. Bit Torrent isn’t the first place people look for my music because it’s available in easier places. But if they do go there, I hope they find some and listen to me. I’d rather they listened than didn’t. And given how expensive a radio plugger would be to get my stuff out there, I’m happy to trade some ‘free publicity’ for the ‘risk’ that those people might not pay for it later.

Instead of looking at the massive opportunity that file sharing offers musicians to be discovered at ZERO cost, the FAC have backed the old school idea that has been failing artists for the last 50 years. There was no golden age, there was no time when ‘the recording industry’ was good for musicians. It has never existed, but it could now. But the FAC are too damn stupid/greedy/backwards to see it.

Dear FAC. I’m so glad I didn’t look to join you when you formed. I’d have to quit now, and tell you what a sham I think your organisation is. You muppets.

57 Replies to “Featured Artist Coalition Backs Lily. "WTF?" Says Everyone Else.”

  1. Tom Alves mentioned the phrase “helps the consumer ignore the obligation to pay” which prompts me to ask – is it wrong to listen to music you haven’t paid for?

    Is it wrong to listen to music on the radio? No
    Is it wrong to listen to music on a jukebox? No
    Is it wrong to listen to music played by a DJ in a club? No
    Is it wrong to listen to music in a TV show, or a film, or a commercial? No

    The industry has worked out plenty of business models where the listener doesn’t pay for the music, but the artist (or the rights holder) still gets paid. It just needs to invent a few more.

  2. @Gordon Rae, there are parts of the industry that are developing new ways of making music available to the masses to listen to or download that make sure that the Artist gets compensated (this is my understanding of how Spotify and We7 etc work – I might be wrong)

    The problem I guess is that these routes do allow the Artist to cut out the industry middlemen who still want their slice of our pie, even when it is not theirs to have, and it is through this they maintain their control on this industry.

    And this is ultimatley what it is about, control. These people have deluded the public into believing that they know what they want to hear, and the internet and it ability to allow people to communicate directly and exchange ideas is now challenging that.

    The fear of freedom for people to make choices about what they want is ultimatley what is driving this, and if people download stuff for free and ultimatley like it then very often they will buy it (not always) because most people are not stupid and do understand that what we do is (certainly for those of us without record label backing) mostly done from our own pockets so that they can continue to listen to music they like when we are not playing Live locally.

  3. Really, really interesting stuff guys. I don’t have much to add, but wondered if you’d seen Billy Bragg’s follow up comments on P2Pnet.com


    Some highlights:

    “The only way we’re going to change the way things are done is if
    artists and fans work together to build new models that give fans what
    they want and allow artists to earn a living from their recordings.
    And what do you think that the FAC is, Jon?? It’s me and my mates
    standing together as artists to tell the label that their business
    model is fucked.”

    “The reason I’m here is to explore ways that we as artists can win you
    back as customers. The great thing about the internet is that it
    allows us to talk to each other directly, without relying on edited
    media like music papers and radio and such.”

    “They [labels] presume to speak for us. When we speak for ourselves
    they run for cover – or push other artists like Lily Allen to the fore
    so she can take all the flak for them. They worked out well didn’t it?
    What happened to her was a good example of the way your community can
    bring its voice to bear. Thanks to all the negative comments posted by
    P2P users, I doubt the labels will find another artist willing to
    publicly champion their stance for a long while.”

    “I accept that FAC need to deliver a better message that clearly
    states where we stand on file-sharing, but you have to understand that
    the vast majority of artists are still wedded to the record industry
    view of downloading as a threat. There were over 60 artists in the
    room last week when we were discussing how to respond to the
    industry’s demand that the govt pass laws to suspend internet
    connections, only a dozen from the FAC. Despite evidence that
    technical sanctions will not work from several IT experts that we
    invited, the majority was clearly in favour of some kind of sanction.
    In order to try to stop disconnection, we opted for bandwidth
    squeezing as a compromise between all of our positions. Our task now
    is to convince our colleagues that there is no technical solution, but
    this will take time.”

    Follow-up post here: http://www.p2pnet.net/story/29275

  4. The business model is this: Record companies, agents, managers, etc.
    Their 15% is worth way more than everyone else’s 85%.
    And they want to keep it.

  5. Quick Q: are the arguments in defence of ‘illegal’ mp3 sharing equally applicable to books – pdf sharing? Given that you’re much more likely to read just the once?

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