It pisses me off to think that I feel the need to finally write a blog airing my opinion on whether to validate or vindicate piracy of music, movies, or software.
Keeping it in the confines of these three genres I'm hoping to not drop the US governments alphabet soup into my front room and cuff my fat ass while a bunch of other snot nosed elitists try their hand at psychoanalyzing my demeanor or true patriotism to god & country.
I've tapped on this subject amongst friends & co-workers before with varied levels of success, but basically gave it up due to what I call my “Religious Divide” syndrome. Basically the same situation where you get individuals so wrapped up in their 'belief' over the subject that they draw a line in the sand, lash their ass to the mizzenmast or whatever and are prepared to die with that stance. I mean they'll make shit up to prove their point, shit themselves, commit seppuku, chew through a hyena's ass while it's the process of defecating; simply asinine acts of self deprecation in order to force your hand to walk out of the debate in order claim victory (defeatist or not).
What brought this on was a news story featured at on of my favorite sites LINK. The story basically centers around an independent record label going from school to school in England teaching kids the errors of pirating music.
Now instead of pulling the media frenzy Lars Ulrich & the Senate Judiciary Committee back in April of 2000, the Record Label (BPI) visits the school kids with recording equipment and artists. Then with what I assume is a lengthy demonstration, shows the kids what work goes into producing just one song.
I doubt it's a completed product, as experience knows this takes days if not weeks sometimes, but it's great working knowledge for the kids to understand that it isn't “just” the “x” members of the band and a recording device that make up your listening pleasure. This in itself is fine. Kids throughout time have thrived & dined on the dying corpses of “don't give a shit how it got here” so the education is good for them. The message, however overtly or covertly it's being delivered, is what has the potential of twisting my nuts to the 'fight' position.
Reading deeper into the article left me (and the few commentators in the forum) with the impression that the folks of BPI want the kids to think that pirating music would leave these hard working sound guys and engineers (not necessarily NASA-like mathematicians here) without pay or compensation. Well, I'm here to say that's just an overloaded, rolling down the sides, tanker truck of shit.
It ain't called “MUSIC ART” now is it folks? To continue with the hate sentences... dumb asses, it's the fucking music “BUSINESS”. These assholes (labels) are in it for the MONEY. And I don't mean the guys that MAKE the music.
Don't get me wrong, your favorite band likes to eat too. I'm sure they like their limousines and caviar like the rest of us. OK, I'm being facetious (smart ass for those too lazy to look the word up), but you get the idea. When I worked for bands as an engineer I wasn't exactly in it for the money either. I loved the “show” too. As an “artist” (yes, I even hold a degree as an “artist”) I appreciate it when someone admires my work & have no problem just giving the shit away, just for the admiration. But I can't “EAT” admiration. Nor can I recreate the exact same drawing time and time again either. So each work is definitely one of a kind.
Assholes that sit behind a desk and place a piece of paper from one side of that desk to other... how much do you want to bet that motherfucker can do that repeatedly, time and again, exactly the same? Not to mention the fact, say yes or no to a myriad of decisions that anyone else could probably make who are in their... say, late to mid 30s. I did it all the time and still got paid shit to do it. Yet a suit got my check and credit.
So what I'm going to try and do is invalidate BPI's attempt to validate their piracy claims while validate my theory why some people download. I say download because Pirating is something I attribute to back in the 70s called 'bootlegging'. That was when folks either sat in on bar sets or closed concerts and illegally recording them, then turned around and made records of those recordings... you get the idea. Another process along those lines was different assholes, taking albums and transferring them to cheap cassettes to sell them relatively cheap on the street and completely cut everybody out of the money loop.
So for starters let's take a 70s band, fresh out of the garage and put them in the meat grinder. The record label gets a firm grip on their ass and signs them to what looks to be a premiere deal for 3 albums at “x” million. Sounds great right? Hope they had a lawyer (not really, cause he's gonna sodomize them too) cause they got fucked from “Hello boys”...
Most bands, including today, lose the rights to their songs when they sign with a recording label. This means if even ONE (1) song becomes a hit, that label will have other bands re-make that song repeatedly until other generations can't stand it anymore and kill it like so much rat poison to a cheating husband. Or they'll sell it instantly to a fucking chewing gum commercial at the drop of a hat for the residual check that goes into “their” pocket NOT the band's. Remember, they signed away the rights to their music in order to get that payday.
Now that they have a contract, do you really think the band has any control over anything? Fuck NO. It's like gambling in Vegas, everything is stacked toward the house, in this case; the label. They have such a bullshit line waiting for you in regards as to when you'll get paid for your album you might as well put in for social security now. Between photographers, stagehands, lighting, packaging, delivery, stocking, taxes, makeup, models, fuck me running up hill both ways till Sunday, we didn't even get in the studio to lay down music tracks before the band is getting whine stories about not getting paid... starting to get a picture?
Want to know something? All those folks I just mentioned? They fucking got paid for their jobs. The showed up for work, clocked in, did their job, clocked out and got handed their check with a 1099 tax stub attached to it cause entertainment accounting fucks will hide every imaginable IRS tracks you can think of when it comes to finances. Remember, I have worked these scenes before.
What about the band? They can't work for nothing forever... So long as they keep showing up to whatever the label says they need to show up to, on a day by day basis, these poor bastards get a per diem allowance. I'm guessing that's about $200 a day now. And I do mean daily. They don't pay by the week or bi-weekly. Because after some of the hoops they make you jump, frankly, you get tired of that shit and you just might think about telling them to go fuck themselves for a couple of days. Not if you want to get paid you won't.
Is that descent money? For most times 80+ hours a week, seldom a day off, weeks on end. You tell me. It only gets worse. In the mean time, you're constantly on the move, you're being hounded by the label to already start producing your next album and there's a good chance you don't even have the tracks for the first one finished yet. Not to mention, you're also still pulling night gigs at your shit hole dive bar clubs, but at least this time you're the headliner and you get a meat tray in the green room and slightly better pay when you leave the club.
Are we in the money yet? Not on your fucking life. This kind of “in & out” (both figuratively and literally) could go on for up to 9 months before the finished album starts your tour date. That's taking into account that a combination of clubs, radio stations and word of mouth get enough airplay of your music out there to merit any kind of tour dates to get your band "out there".
So lets say you guys 'do' get some live gigs. What have you got to offer the crowd? Most shows last around 2 hours. Do you even have 2 hours worth of shit? Remember that comment I made about the label “making” you redo a song(s) by other groups? Yeah, that's where this shit comes in folks. Where your album stuff may only cover about an hour and 15 minutes worth of shit, they'll make you shake your ass to the tune of another 30 minutes of artists they've fucked in the past to fill the gap. Don't believe me? Sign on the line... chances are it'll be fill material on your sophomore album.
NOW you'll start to see some serious cash, because only once you hit the road does the band start to see any money. The label “CAN'T” own a live performance. They'll try to own the recording of it, but the actual performance... can't be done. So this is the only time that the band can actually clean up and make a really good living. THAT'S why you see these poor bastards on the road all the time. THAT'S why you NEED to try and go see them when you can, because you are really, truly, actually supporting the artist in the most profound way possible.
So, that album that you finally bought? Wanna take a guess at how much your 'artist' got for busting his ass and waiting up to almost 18 months for his/her part of the bargain? What's an album go for at Wally World these days? As of this writing; newest, hot, pop artist, #3 release, $17.88. Not taking into consideration THAT particular artist, we're talking about a first time band here, remember; how much do you think these guys got?
Half? Nope. $5? Not even remotely close. Let's not even cut the hair off your nuts, let's take part of the skin off as well and say a buck an album; and you'd still be balls on WRONG! Hell, I'll just cut your sack and scare the shit right out of you now and lay it out there for you... Most new bands, unprotected, first time signed, at best make .12 cent US an album. Given inflation, they MIGHT (and this is really liberal) MIGHT make .17 cents an album. FOLKS, that's for the BAND, NOT EACH. They split that shit.
So when you go to Wally World some two or three years later and see that album on sale for $3 in the bargain bin, ask yourself one thing; do you REALLY think Wally World is going to sell you that record and NOT have made 'some' kind of money off of it? Remember now, the label has ALREADY BEEN PAID for the records to even be in the store. Wally doesn't just return the unused portions for a full refund.
Now just who the fuck didn't “get paid”?
If the “artist” ramrodded most of all that mess to get an album out to me like what goes into putting on a concert (I worked those for a living folks & got payed well too), then giving he/she that $15 is just fine. But if all they're getting is .01% of the take? Kiss my ass!!!
Now who the fuck is stealing from the artists!?!