Illegal Downloads

DISCLAIMER:  As both a professional musician and fan of many bands, I can see both sides of this eternal argument.  These are my opinions and they may insult or upset you.  I make no apology for that.  I am getting on my soapbox for this entry.  Consider yourself warned.

Twice in the past two months, Kyo of Dir en grey has expressed his displeasure that the band’s latest single, “Different Sense,” and their upcoming album, Dum Spiro Spero leaked a few days and a full week, respectively, of their release dates.  Leaked releases are nothing new to the industry, especially now that everything is digital and as close to instantaneous as one can get without having direct implants into the brain, but what concerns me is a lot of fans’ nonchalance over the whole thing.  Fans, not just of Dir en grey but of many bands throughout the industry, seem to believe that there is nothing wrong with this practice.  I’ve heard fans claim at concerts that the band members are all rich, that the bands make so much money, blah blah blah, the list of “reasons” for not buying albums or merchandise goes on.

Well, let me shed some light on this.  First of all, bands are not rich.  Record labels are rich, not the artists.  I’ve said it before, you’ve all heard it many times before, LET IT SINK IN.  Read about the distribution of royalties and see how comparatively little the artists make here.  Keep in mind, it is the record label’s money that the band or artists uses for tours and to create the album in the first place.  That’s one of the reasons why it’s so gratifying to see an independent band succeed and get recognition.  They had to do everything themselves, and if fans don’t financially support the band, the band cannot sustain itself.

More important than the financial aspect, though, is the fact that a song or album is the band’s collective creative product.  They have put in hours of time writing, recording, arranging, and mixing, selecting the songs that work best together for the album.  They promote the album through interviews and television appearances.  During this time they don’t get to do much of anything else outside of their work.  They anticipate the album’s release even more than the fans because they want to see the fans’ reactions to their hard work.  They want to show the fans what they’ve accomplished, what they’ve created.  If the album leaks,  it shows disrespect to the amount of work the artists have done.

Some respond as Kyo did, in a few simple words for everyone to read, while others, like Cinema Bizarre back in 2009, respond as so:

I keep trying to come up with an analogy for the situation, and the only thing I can think of is the following scenario:  You write a story that you plan to read aloud to a crowd on a specific date.  This story is better than any you’ve come up with before.  To make sure it really is good and not just your imagination and ego letting you think it’s good, you have a friend read it over.  The friend loves it, compliments you about it, and can’t wait to hear you read it aloud!  You’re all excited, you’ve picked out your outfit, have decided where you’re going to put certain pauses for effect; you’ve got the whole thing ready to go.  Then, a few days before your grand unveiling, you discover your friend who read the story told a bunch of your mutual friends all about it – the plot, the characters, the main climax, the resolution, even the twists – just because your friend was too excited to keep it a secret.  That crushed feeling you get in the pit of your stomach thinking about how nobody will be surprised and the anger at your friend for not keeping their mouth shut?  THAT is what the artists feel when they learn their album leaked.

Fans, I have some harsh reality for you.  Bands and artists owe you NOTHING.  They create music for themselves that they want to SHARE with you.  Every band and artist loves their fans and knows that without them, they are just another person in this world, and they show their appreciation in the form of more songs and albums.  Every time you illegally download their work, you insult them.  Why should they bother spending all that time carefully crafting art just so you can take it for free?  You deny the artists their recognition.  You deny the labels the money to keep the artist working.  In the end, you’re not sticking it to the man or making any statement.  You’re hurting yourself and other fans in addition to the artists.

You are not a fan if you illegally download music.

“But I’m broke and can’t afford to buy it right now!” is a cry heard from a lot of fans, especially in this day and age.  Whatever happened to saving up for something you want?  Asking for it as a present for a birthday?  Finding a way to legitimately purchase it on your own?  People have become so entitled over the past years that most don’t realize nothing has changed.  If you want something, you have to work for it.  That is the way life will always be, and it is much more gratifying when you’ve accomplished something on your own.  Maybe you have to wait a little longer than the rest of the world, but there is no shame in that.  It’s not like the music is going to just leave its places of purchase anytime soon.

I, for one, love the anticipation of the new album, of getting it in the mail or purchasing it in the store and immediately driving around with it playing in my car so I can listen and hear the new stuff.  I love sitting later in a quiet room and discovering all the layers of sound, the way the channels panned to create aural illusions, the way the music all comes together to resonate with the listener’s soul.  I love the thought that I waited for this element of perfection, and look forward to the upcoming tour which will surely follow the new release.  Maybe people heard it days or weeks before me, but now I get to hear it and feel the sound for myself.  There’s something magical in the first notes of a new song.  Isn’t that worth the wait?

No?  Then kindly remove yourself from the band’s presence.  They don’t need a “fan” like you.

~ by violarockstar on July 29, 2011.

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