Monday 21 September 2009

When will the music industry get it?

So the illegal file sharing debate is continuing to rage on and I guess really I just wanted to throw my opinion out there, because unfortunately the industry still doesn't understand. They don't understand the technology, they don't understand what's at risk and they obviously don't even understand their audience.

Let's get the first most important myth out of the way. A shared file is NOT a lost sale. How any one can believe that's the case baffles me. If an artist has a good album, I will go out and buy it, probably physically on a CD, then at least I have something to show for it, or perhaps from Amazon on MP3. Now, if I'm at work, and my newly bought album is sitting at home, I will feel no guilt WHAT SO EVER about downloading it over bitorrent, I've paid my money to those concerned. Of course that's not the only situation, some people will just sit at home downloading the tracks from bitorrent and not buying anything, but wait, file sharers actually buy MORE music than non-filesharers. Granted, there will be a minority that don't pay, but those people can't copy the experience of a live GIG can they? Which brings me to my next point. File sharing is the single best method of promotion out there!

The Internet has presented right at the feet of the artists is a network of free advertising. Leak a track onto bitorrent and EVERYONE will be talking about it and the majority of those people will then go and buy the album. New artists can build a following on file sharing sites that will attract people to their gigs and to buy their merchandise. Lily Allen, an artist I have a massive amount of respect for, who built her career from MySpace, apparently can't even see that file sharing is essentially the same thing: a free method of advertising. 50 Cent gets it, hopefully more artists will aswell.

Now let's get to the important issues. The technical side of this, imagine the Internet as a massive postal service, except literally millions and millions of letters are sent EVERY SINGLE SECOND all around the world. These letters are known technically as "packets" of data. There is no way on Earth that anyone can do all of the following:

a.) Monitor all this traffic
b.) Determine which traffic is file sharing
c.) Determine that said file sharing is illegal

Torrents are used for many many legitimate causes, including software distribution, free music, videos, and images, etc. blanket banning it would be like banning all phone calls because you might insult someone. Even if it is possible, you really want someone snooping all your emails and messages? If illegal filesharing in it's current form is stopped, then everything will just move to encrypted methods, there will ALWAYS be a way.

The real problem is this, the music industry is broken. The music industry needs to adapt to changes in technology just like everyone else, they can't just sit there trying to force through legislation that makes 1 in 10 people a criminal just so they don't have to change their business model. Recordable cassettes didn't kill the industry, file sharing won't either. The only thing that will kill the music industry is itself.