Another independent record label hits the wall: it’s time that supporters of piracy re-examined their myths

I’ve heard about another good, independent record label hitting the wall. In this particular case, Hydrahead have shut up shop, blaming, among other things, the conditions in the industry. With this in mind, it is high time that the piracy advocates re-examined some of their mythology.

Firstly, filesharing hasn’t just hit greedy EMI execs. It has created a whole generation who think they ought not to pay for music. And this has hit independent artists and labels as much as anyone else.

Secondly, filesharing hasn’t “liberated” music from industry dictats but rather narrowed its confines. Back when we were all willing to pay a tenner for a CD, a niche artist could just about survive by selling 2000 records a year. Nowadays its increasingly a matter of “go big or go home”. If Leon Rosselson was starting out today would he be able to dedicate his life to his craft?

Thirdly, P2P isn’t what allows artists to “build their fanbase” without industry support. Digital distribution does that. A huge range of platforms allow musicians to sell their music, or stream it, or *if they want* to make it freely downloadable. P2P compels musicians to accept the latter, whether it works for them or not.

This here is me streaming our music

Fourthly, the great range of people involved in producing good recorded music – musicians, producers, organisers – can’t simply exist outside the cash nexus because, you know, they’e “creative types”. If the people who supplied them with gas, food and shelter also considered their work to be a labour of love then maybe they could.

Fifthly, it is a false dichotomy to suggest that musicians can make up for declining music sales by living off their live performances. A lot of the money earned gigging comes from selling CDs at the gig. And the amount that artists can charge is diminished by the ubiquity of free tunes.

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One Response to Another independent record label hits the wall: it’s time that supporters of piracy re-examined their myths

  1. Tansy Hoskins says:

    You are absolutely right Reuben. Piracy is not liberation. The same issues occurs with the publishing of books – ‘file sharing’ is a fast track route to only those who have a private source of income being able to be writers.

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