back to article Billy Bragg: Why should songwriters starve so others get rich?

Why should songwriters starve so that the Web 2.0 kids and tech VCs get rich? Billy Bragg asked the question recently, and the downloaders and VCs quickly shot back - it's because you should be grateful that we're here! "Recorded music is nothing but marketing material to drive awareness of an artist," fumed Michael Arrington, …


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  1. Tom

    'Help big business to cut us in'??


    You dont need big business any more. You want to sell me music we can do it over the internet. The only need for 'big business' is to get my money to you.

    I dont see anyone else need be involved.

    Oh - other than lawyers who will sue you for not being big business!

  2. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Music is everywhere

    Newspapers give away free CDs, music is in the background of TV programmes more and more now.

    Labels give away free downloads (never used to get much in the way for free, maybe on a cover tape on a magazine).

    Music is cheaper to produce than ever and it is being further cheapened by it being given away.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!!

    Can these people please stop with the stupid retort that stealing music is like stealing stuff from your house?


    You steal something physical, then it is gone. An empty space is left. You no longer can use that, sell it, or anything with it.

    You "steal" online music, its a copy; period. You are still left with the original item, you are still able to do something with it.

    A better analogy, which isn't nearly as headline grabbing would be:

    - Break into my house and take a photograph of everything and leave; not touching or removing a single item

    *or closer*

    - taking a photo of me, and then using that elsewhere or selling it without my permission.

    Thats the difference.

    Read the Lessig's book on copyright law and you'll get a whole new perspective on this.

  4. Mark Talbot

    There is a simple answer to his concerns

    Just release his material under one of the CC Non commercial licences and a full blown one to anybody else. Make you money from other people making money and allow viral sharing to create you a market.

    On the other hand what does he consider making a living because i'm fairly sure he is making far more than what the rest of the country calls a living.

  5. Gilleain Torrance

    Stealing is a closer analogy than photography

    Of course the "copyright is theft" analogy isn't correct, but neither is it consequence-free.

    If you take a copy of something for free, instead of paying for that copy - and you could have afforded it - then you deprive the owner of a sale. It's not really that hard a concept to grasp.

    The difficulty is determining how many sales there would have been if free downloading wasn't possible. One side counts every free copy as a lost sale, while the other side counts none of them as lost sales. Neither is right.

  6. Chris

    @"Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!! "

    I always think of it as a recursive thing. If it's fine to take music for free, who pays for it? Noone. How does it continue? I just don't get it.

    @ "Websites that bring that music to listeners are doing artists a favour. In fact, they’re doing them a favour that they should (and will) be paid for."

    What are those websites without music? Nothing. What is music without those websites? Well, music's been around for a few years now...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Some things may have changed but

    Didn't the Beatles flog their nuts off for years in local venues, and long hard stints in Hamburg, before they had a hit record? No doubt countless other groups too. Love in L.A., Bob Seger in Detroit. Springsteen's superb concerts.

    Talent will out, give a good performance locally and build on that.

    It's a model that works, Billy.

  8. Hollerith

    Music is not fodder; music is not publicity

    As A.C. says, copyright theft is not like ripping off someone's TV from their house. Writing songs, writing books and poems, painting or making an art video, creates more than just a thing. Copyright came about because it was thought that 'ideas' 'words' 'tunes' weren't able to be stolen, only copied, but that this was still a loss.

    To lose ownership of one's creations negates and cuts into your creativity.

    In my personal ife, I am a novelist and writer. I had one of my online 'how to write' columns blatantly plagarised by another (and more well known) writer on her own website. The damage was just not passing off my work as hers, but a visceral blow, a loss of myself, in a way that is hard to describe. I can only offer to the world my creativity for their delight (I hope) and I don't do this selflessly: I want to be credited, and I would really like to be paid for it. You pay the baker to feed your body, but a musician (and a writer and a poet and an artist) feeds the soul. Just because the tune is an intangible doesn't mean the musician should enrich your life for nothing in return.

    When I see website owners insisting that they are giving the musician publicity, I wonder why they think publicity is the musician's goal. The musician wants to be heard and to get a reward. It's not to be 'known' that they record, it's to get people to listen to their music.

    But when your life is transformed, even if only for a while, by a magical song, why do you decide that the artist is willing to do this for free for you? That we live on your love alone? I know musicians and writers who were brilliant but crushed by the system. Their potential gifts to the world will now never be. The RIAA is not their friend, but VCs and website owners and those who want to diss The Man are not their friends either.

  9. Graham Anderson
    Jobs Halo

    This is between the artists and the labels

    Part of the problem is that musicians sell their "intellectual property" to large evil corporations. Said evil corporations then screw up the marketing of product - trying to sell formats and products that punters don't want. (Case in point, I quite like the French artist Camille. She has a new single out according to her website. This morning I tried to buy it from the iTunes store and couldn't because it was only available in the French iTunes store. This isn't my fault, its between EMI and iTunes - and I suspect its down to EMI only licensing their precious acquired "intellectual property" for sale in France. They have just lost a completely free sale - no marketing required. Free money for more coke - I mean, candles and flowers!)

    When artists do better deals with labels - or cut them out completely - then they will find a way to make money out of their fanbase. But please stop blaming the fans. Fans don't sit on artsits' back catalogues preventing fans from buying material - that's the labels and their precious "intellectual property". The long tail should be a massive opportunity for the music business - and they have borked it completely.

    Except of course for labels like 4AD. I can go to the 4AD website and buy pretty much every release they ever made. If I can't buy the CD because its out of print, I can buy high quality digital downloads. With David Sylvian's Samadhisound, I can buy all of his new releases while cutting out the middle-man.

  10. Paul Talbot


    Can't watch the vids at work but...

    "If the recording right disappears, he predicts, "we'll be spoonfed corporate stars that are designed to appeal to a mass audience. Someone who is a bit quirky - and by quirky, I mean a Radiohead - will never get out of Oxford.""

    Doesn't he mean: that's what's been happening since the late '80s and now that the Internet's taking over all the quirky acts have a chance to reach their mainstream audience? Remember Radiohead didn't really become quirky until *after* they'd sold enough records not to care. "Creep" was a great song but quirky it wasn't.

  11. Man Outraged

    Billy, billy, billy,

    It's just a new world order mate, like you sang about a while ago. If they're smart enough, song writers and artists will make the most of the new, cheaper publicity and distribution channels and only the music execs will suffer, at the expense of the web VCs.

    Fans will always spend money, artists team with songwriters to promote and distribute their own work. Fair enough, they have to give away songs, but they do that anyway to get on radio playlists and the like. What you loose in song credits you will more than gain in cheaper, more competitive access to studios, cheaper distribution, better cut on merchandise and physical sales.

    Not outraged today. Special place on my CD rack for BB

  12. Gav

    Re:There is a simple answer to his concerns

    "Make you money from other people making money"

    And how do the "other people" make money, from other "other people"? If a musician is to earn a living making music, *someone* has to put their hand in their pocket and produce the money. Otherwise you just have a never ending chain of people hoping the next person in line will magic the readies out of thin air.

    "i'm fairly sure he is making far more than what the rest of the country calls a living"

    What makes you think that? No-one puts a thousand pounds in your pocket every week simply for being (relatively) famous. I have no idea what Billy Bragg earns, but it's probably less than you think.

    Anyhow, your following the same self-serving logic used by many freeloaders. The "they're all rich anyway" argument. The point is; very few of them are rich, most are getting by much the same as anyone else. If you cheat them out of the way they earn a living, then they will stop trying to earn a living that way.

  13. Lloyd

    Why should songwriters starve so others get rich?

    Quite simply they shouldn't but then I'm also of the opinion that the pre-packaged cr@p that gets churned out of reality tv shows and lip synched recording studios should be fleeced to the hilt, a kind of idiot tax for the people that buy the rubbish in the first place.

    What we need is more artists ready to go out on a limb and become famous by bribing DJ's with curry!!!

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Theft etc

    I agree with 'Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!!'.

    Besides which, copyright theft doesn't really exist in this case because all that is happening is distribution without license (site) and making a copy without paying for it (which is not theft but denial of profit).

    These corporations have taken the position that the potential profits they could have made are in fact real and material things in the literal sense that have been stolen from their actual accounts.

    Which is not only factually incorrect but is also hysterical.

  15. John Chadwick

    @ Music is everywhere

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you'll find that these sources of Music or Film or whatever still pay for them, and the artists involved are still entitled to those royalties.

    When labels give away music, and they do, it's as a loss leader to generate sales and interest, in fact, I remember NME, Rolling Stone, Melody Maker and others giving away tracks on a 7" cover single that would play a few times before being worn out. These vinyl singles were probably the thickness of a piece of paper, so if you liked what you heard, you went and bought it. Don't know about free tapes though they came along after I'd stopped reading NME. (1980 if you wondered).

    Artists need to be paid for their work, and not all artists translate from albums to Wembley Stadium, why should we loose them, just because they use an easily copied media doesn't mean they should not be paid for their work.

    If you want artwork you pay for it, copy or not, and the artist benefits, no one would suggest that an artist such as Damian Hirst shouldn't be paid for his embalmed livestock, so why shouldn't Billy, or any other Musician be paid for theirs.

  16. Paul M.

    Freetards Feel OK

    "Read the Lessig's book on copyright law and you'll get a whole new perspective on this."

    Lessig is the Freetard Hero, and makes everyone feel OK about downloading.

    Somehow I suspect Mr.Lessig never had to worry about having a job he hates, as Billy says.

    @Mark Talbot

    "Just release his material under one of the CC Non commercial licences and a full blown one to anybody else. Make you money from other people making money and allow viral sharing to create you a market."

    Two incompatible licenses? No can do. A CC license is irrevocable, so you must make one choice for all time.

    Seems like Freetards have totally lost the ability to think.

  17. Alan Mellor

    Free stuff is nice, yes - but not if the seller isn't giving it away

    > You "steal" online music, its a copy; period. You are still left with the original item, you are still able to do something with it.

    The one thing I am no longer able to do is to sell it to you. You have reduced my potential market by one, an odd thing to do given you seemed to like the song enough to download it.

    It's not about physical copies, it's about business opportunity cost.

    If you're a MySpace wannabee, then having your music heard for free won't affect you, because you'll still have your day job to allow you to enjoy your hobby.

    But if the only way that you and your family get fed is by the money you make from selling your music, then this opportunity cost means that (a) You get to dance naked in the shower whistling along out of tune to a song you like but never created (b) the artist gets to sit hungry in a cold, damp house for another hour/day/week. Or thereabouts. Like everyone else, they need money to live.

    You list a number of analogies, which all describe a different situation.

    It's about fair exchange. How about if you like the music, you buy some beer and takeaways, then bring them round the artists house to feed his/her family, without charging him/her? Or paint their house? Or fill their car up with a tankful of petrol?

    I can see how that would be a swap, not theft. Otherwise, I cant see why taking an artists product without paying is not theft.

    I'm with the artists on this one; my day job is to write computer code, where a similar thing applies. Nice to give it away if you want to. But it's my right to decide whether I give it away, or whether I charge. And your right to decide if its worth buying.

  18. Michael Compton

    The crux is..

    Art is only as valuable as the amount of money people are willing to pay for it.

    Many traditional fine art artist were never rich it was only long after their death that the value of their pieces shot up. And it can be argued that this traditional art is more worthy as it is a one off original and anything else is a copy and so not worth much. Music on the other hand is all a copy so why expect it to be worth all that much.

  19. A J Stiles

    @ Gilleain Torrance

    You have fallen into a false dichotomy phallacy, by assuming that the downloader has only two options: get the music for free or pay for it. In fact there is a third: do without it altogether. I suspect that many people, if they couldn't get the music for free, would choose this third option.

    If the downloader would have exercised this option if prevented from obtaining music for free, then that download does *not* represent a lost sale.

  20. Richard Eustace

    @"Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!! "

    Would the analogy not be more like staying in a hotel but leaving without paying,

    You haven't stole the room, you have taken nothing tangable but the hotel still had to be built and paid for.

    Music is more like a servise than a commodity

  21. Ben Davies

    @Gilleain Torrance

    "If you take a copy of something for free, instead of paying for that copy - and you could have afforded it - then you deprive the owner of a sale."

    But the argument being made is that prerecorded music is an advertisment for the real thing - the live performance. And thats not even getting into your assumption that every downloaded song is a deprived sale. I routinely download music that has been suggested to me by friends, to see if I do infact like it. If it's good, I'll generally go out and buy the album on CD. If it sucks, it sits in my iTunes library gathering dust.

    Personally, I think that more and more, people (like my mum and dad) are downloading music "guilt free" not because they are robbing faceless corporations, but because the sense of entitlement that stems from many "artists" is completley out of align with thier respective talents. Let me explain:

    There are two key factors that I think are providing normal, law abiding citizens to commit grand copyright theft. 1) "modern" composers insist on calling themselves "artists" when they clearly arn't and 2) the perversion of copyright law provides these artists the framework required to be repeatedly paid for work that has already been compensated for.

    My mum doesnt feel guilty for downloading Westlifes back catalogue because Westlife are just a covers band. They are not artists, merely pretty karioke stars. There is no art in their work because they are not producing an original creative work. And secondly, Westlife made millions and millions from selling something they only had to produce once. My mum was not paid repeatedly for work she hald already been compensated for. She fails to see the argument as to why Westlife should too, especially when they are singing someone elses song. A similar act my mother also does when she potters about the house, singing to herself.

    It doesnt help when you see artists like this bitching about lost sales and the hardships of having to decide on the interior of their Ferrari.

    My parents replaced their entire music collection, at great expense, twice. Once from LP to tape, then from tape to CD. They are done buying music.

    The wierd thing is, over the last 3 years, my parents have actually started to go to see more live music then they ever did before. They claim its because "it's the real thing, isn't it?"

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plastic Pop Groups

    Its about time the Record Industry stopped producing Plastic Pop Groups and shows like The X Factor should stop their "talent" shows for 1 hit wonders and actually release music from artists that can play a proper instrument(s).

  23. Geoff Mackenzie

    Depriving of a sale

    Not exactly; only if you would otherwise have bought it. As a consumer what I would like to see is the majority of music released by an artist under a CC license (as someone has already suggested), but perhaps only offered in a lossy (though high quality) format, and the option to buy (direct from the artist) a FLAC or CD version, and perhaps a few extra tracks that aren't available free. Add to that a facility to donate to the artist voluntarily and I would, on occasion, do that.

    Funnily enough, as an (alleged) artist that's also what I'd like to see. I have a lot of respect for Billy Bragg but I have to say, why should I pay good money for a copy I made myself? When we were last in the studio recording, it cost a few hundred pounds. We all have day jobs. But the MP3s and OGGs will be covered by CC licenses; donations welcome, but we're happy just to break even on gigs and lose a bit of money on the recordings. It's early days yet - maybe with a couple of FLAC / CD (or even other merchandise, us capitalist scum) sales we'll break even on the recordings sometime too or even make a small profit.

    Sure, we'd all love to give up our day jobs too, but who wouldn't? Most (or, well, I don't have the numbers, but many anyway) people have other, sometimes creative things they could otherwise be doing. But no matter how entertaining we can be with our musical instruments we're still, in reality, not getting actual work done that way. The nice thing about day jobs is they leave your evenings and weekends free so that you can express yourself, create art and make the world a culturally richer place. Do musicians dream of making a living making music? Sure. But I'm also a sleeper and if I could make a living doing that, it would be awesome.

    The market decides the value of a product. When copies of recordings were hard to make it was easy to sell them. They aren't any more. The industry needs to grow up and realise mercantilist protectionism can't help them here. Artists need to grow up and realise that back when a huge industry could be sustained on the sales of recordings, there was more promotion, there were bigger stars; but all of that was artificial and built on the technical difficulty of copying recordings. Without that, is anyone doing anything that really adds that much value here?

    We can pay for our own recordings, collect our own cut of ticket sales, try some online sales of recorded tracks. Distribution is dirt cheap, promotion is easy. If what we do is worth something we can get some money back for it. If not, there are tons of employers out there who have ideas for things you can spend time doing that's worth something to them. In short, get a day job. Whether you like it or not. It's what the rest of us do, and it's not so bad.

    P.S.: I wasn't getting any actual work done while I wrote this rant, so you all have to chip in 50p for reading it. Anyway, that's lunch over - back to the day job.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well the reason artists starve is mostly becouse they're stupid and lazy and not very good. This is why the "man" exists.

    The "man" "lends" money to the "Artist" so that they can produce an "album" and "videos" and receive mangament and teams and such like. The "man" then charges huge interest on the "loan" and a tasty cut of profits.

    Now the "Artist" lives with this coz all they need to worry about is "creating" bland carp for the "music" "audiance" to gorge on. He doesn't need to worry about bills coz the "man" looks after then, they don't need to worry about venues coz the "man" has them too.

    Simply put the "artists" sacrificed themselves long ago, the "man" just capitalised on other peoples stupidity and laziness and probably their pride and greed too.

    Now all the "man" is doing is figuring out how to make money another way and the "poor" lazy stupid "artists" are left out of pocket. The smart creative artists will however make it through though, as will the man.

    Heart bleeds. No really it does.

  25. Shady

    All our costs are belong to you

    What a fantastic business model!

    Imagine being in the car industry and being PAID to take raw materials of the suppliers hands!

    I suppose the Web 2.0 vulture capitalists also expect their web-hosts to pay *them* for hosting, on the grounds that the web-hosts are offloading their surplus bandwidth.

  26. paulc

    Dual licensing...

    CC no commercial use is perfectly compatible with the same material being licensed with a commercial use license...

    give away the material free under the no commercial use license and if someone does want to make money with it (for instance as music for their film or commercial or perhaps to play in Discos for paying punters), then license it to them so that they can...

  27. Alan

    I want my money back

    Its a tricky one this.

    In order to know if i like a song or not i have to listen to it. Where do i listen to this? The radio? the TV? or download?

    If i buy it, and i don't like it, i want a full refund! The musicians don't seem to be keen on this model.

    I download music. Yup. And I can hand on heart say, everyone that i downloaded for free, and liked, I have gone on and purchased the CD. Without the free "illiegal?" downloads, artists like Mika, Regina Spectra, Amy McDonald, Kate Nash, to name but a few would not be gracing my CD shelves at the moment.

    Contrast this to the hundreds of crap albums i have on my shelves from the 80's and 90's where you had to risk buying the whole CD on the strength of a single song. I want my money back!

    My sympathy for the musician -- does not run deep sorry. Its a changing landscape, we the punter are now in charge, and no more can you peddle your "Greatest Hits" albums making us buy the same tracks over and over again.

    Give us quality and we will buy.

  28. Christopher Bowen

    It IS theft

    To make the comparison that it's not "stealing" because there's no physical thing being stolen is a non starter. It's like pirating a video game by stealing the ROM image; you're not stealing it from a brick-and-mortar store, but you're still able to play the game and therefore don't need to buy it, and that's good enough for most of you. In other words, unless you can HONESTLY say - and 95% of downloaders can't - that you're going to purchase whatever it is that you download, then you have no high ground to stand on, and all you're doing by saying "lol it's not physical so it's not theft" is trying to rationalize what you're doing with some very flimsy technicalities.

    Don't get me wrong; I'm not on the side of big business (they're bigger crooks than anyone), and support fully what Radiohead and Reznor are trying to do. But we're to the point where everyone is trying to take all the pie for themselves; no one wants to cut it up and share it. The artists want to maximize their money, the RIAA wants to maximize their money, the people that run these "distribution centres" want to start making money (which, last I checked, was reselling someone else's copyrighted work; they might be worse than the RIAA, because they're illegal to start with!), and the fans want all the music to themselves, and there's no middle ground. Everyone needs to find a middle ground here.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The rationalization of theft is amazing...

    It's only a lost sale if i was planning to buy it and didn't...

    Uh... a clepto doesn't plan on buying the things they steal.. but it's still theft.

    It's not theft if there's no actual physical loss of the item...

    Riiiight. Then it's ok if your boss decides to hold back the money for work you do each day? He's not taking any physical items, since it's money you never had in the first place.. so the loss of income is ok, right?

    The recording industry keeps churning out crap.

    They might... but if that's the case.. why download it even for free? If it's crap it's crap. They'd likely stop churning it out if it didn't sell.. and nobody even wanted to steal it. Thousands of free downloaders only encourages them to think that people want what they have to offer.


  30. Steve

    @ @ Music is everywhere

    "If you want artwork you pay for it, copy or not, and the artist benefits, no one would suggest that an artist such as Damian Hirst shouldn't be paid for his embalmed livestock..."

    I know many people who've said exactly that. Besides, he is not really an artist in this case, he simply commisioned some other people to cut a cow in half and then pickle it for him.

    If that's art, my old biology lab was a museum.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @"Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!! "

    Stop whining like a spoiled baby, then.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    re. Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!!

    OK, try this one:

    Your employer is unable to sell product, because someone copies their product and gives it away; because of this he is unable to continue and you're out of a job.

    The same happens to all of the other companies in your industry so you can't get another job.

    There are no new products developed in that industry, everyone has to make do with copies of the old stuff.

    How about that?

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Actually stealing music is worse than breaking into your house

    For those people who try to make out that stealing music isn't as bad as breaking into someone's house, think about this. If I break into your house and steal your TV, the insurance company that you've been paying money to for years pays for you to get a new one. You spend a week or two deprived of your TV, but then you get a shiny new upgrade to the TV and other than an invasion of privacy and a small insurance excess, you actually finish off better off than before.

    If I steal your music, I am depriving you of income, of the means to live. Worse still, because I haven't taken a physical product, other people can also steal the same thing. Now, if 100 people steal a song selling for £1, that isn't £100 in lost revenue, its probably more like £1 in lost revenue since a lot of those people wouldn't have bought the track if they couldn't steal it. But when a million people steal the track it's now a big issue, that's more like £10k in lost revenue. And a lot more people than that are stealing music.

    It is important to see why it's a big issue though. Remember, most professional artists do not make much money, Billy Bragg is in a middle ground I suspect, comfortably well off, but not rich. But a hell of a lot of reasonably successful musicians aren't making that much money. Think of a band that spends a year producing an album, then shifts 100,000 copies of it (which is a lot - not platinum, but still a hell of a lot for most bands). Once the pie gets split up, the band gets 10% for performing it, and the songwriter around another 10%. Assuming the band has 4 members and 1 songwriter, each member gets £25k (before tax) and the songwriter £125k. This isn't money to get anyone rich, and £25k is below the average wage for the UK. At the same time, bands have expenses. Instruments to buy, studio time to rent, none of which is cheap. Now, you supplement that money with gigging which is more profitable, so long as you are filling venues, but if musicians don't get remunerated for spending a year or more producing an album they just won't do it. The only people who will continue doing it are the manufactured bands where the album is a key part of marketing the product.

    Remember in this the history of some of the big, but quirky bands. Pink Floyd was successfully gigging for over 2 years before going into the studio. If the studio time wasn't going to make money, they might have just carried on gigging instead of producing some of the bestselling and most popular albums of all time. Dave Matthews Band had built a huge following through gigs and allowing bootlegging, when they independently released Remember Two Things and eventually went platinum with it. But if producing that album was going to be worthless would they have just carried on gigging? Probably.

    Personally, I think music should be live, but albums provide a useful bridge in spreading the music for a worthwhile return. Yes, the music industry rapes musicians for every penny they have, and the fact that the musicians get about 10% from the album is criminal. Albums should be selling online for $5 each, with the bands taking around half of that (split between musicians and songwriters). That would be less income for the band per unit, but they would be selling lots and lots more. But just because the music industry rips off artists, does not give us the right to rip off the artists as well.

    Remember that next time you download an album...

  34. Sean Aaron

    If I record a radio show, what then?

    I'm not doing an illegal download, but I end up with a digital track I can put on my iPod if I hook my Zoom H2 up to the analogue output on an FM tuner and record a radio show and then upload it to my computer. Is this a lost sale?

    Not actually making an argument, I just want to know people's opinion; it all seems a bit fuzzy to me...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give me the same right

    A website wants to take my intellectual property -- my music -- and give it away for free to help me be better known?

    Fine. Just let me do the same. I'll take their intellectual property -- text, images, CSS design, copyrighted images -- and duplicate their website in a 1000 different places That'll help them become better known. They can then make money by selling consultancy services rather than my music.


  36. grom

    I downloaded Billy's new album...

    I downloaded Billy's new album the other week, it was good (not brilliant but well above average). I won't be buying it but I will go and see him on tour (for the 4th time) next time he's anywhere near and I'll probably buy another t-shirt.

    and yes, I'm comfortable with my morals thank you.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sean Aaron

    Recording off-air is very different to doing a download; for a start you have to spend time waiting for the track you want to be played (or record tons of material and wade through it to find what you want). Because of this its unlikely to replace buying music as the time taken and quality of the result don't make it a viable alternative for the majority of potential buyers. Downloading a "perfect copy" of the original recording from a P2P network is probably easier than buying it (you don't have to key in your bank details).

    It's a lost sale if you consider buying a track, but then consciously decide to record it or download from P2P (as opposed to iTunes store say).

    The money that would have gone to the people in the music industry (artists, technicians, marketing wankers etc.) stays in your pocket and you're happy (?).

    The eventual trend though is to destroy the recorded entertainment industry as it has no source of income.

    Artists who are already famous can ditch their recording companies and hire web-savvy marketing wankers to promote their new mode of business as live artists with free web-based promotional material.

    New artists won't get anywhere (who's going to promote them if there's no money in it?) but who wants to listen to new music now that John Peel's dead?

  38. Andrew Moore


    I would like to see some form of return to patronage- Fans would pay a stipend to their favourite artists and in return will receive access to their works both recorded and live. This could work in many different genres and media, not only music.

  39. Paul Talbot

    re: Alan Mellor

    OK, this is being done to death but Alan is the closest to giving a rational anti-downloading argument and one that can be equally rationally refuted.

    "The one thing I am no longer able to do is to sell it to you. You have reduced my potential market by one, an odd thing to do given you seemed to like the song enough to download it."

    Now, here's the thing. Most people who download music would not suddenly appear in record stores with wads of cash to buy the CDs if said downloads were not impossible. They would either stick with other free goods or find some other ways of getting the stuff for free. In those cases you've not been deprived of anything - you've not been deprived of a sale if said sale was not on the cards to begin with. There's no great analogy but I'm thinking of a person who reads a book in a bookstore instead of paying - there's no profit made, but you wouldn't increase your profits by demanding payment instead; that guy would just walk out.

    Now, the flipside of that is somebody who wouldn't pay the asking fee for your CD on a whim, who listens to a free copy. They like it so they go ahead and buy the CD/t-shirt/concert tickets/DVD/whatever. All of a sudden, you have a big profit that wouldn't exist without the free copy. that certainly won't happen every time, but there's a much higher likelihood of it happening that getting someone who won't pay for music to do so.

    The problem is that for the last couple of decades, the record industry has largely consisted of corporate entities who spend millions in advertising to push junk and then complain that they don't get enough money for it. People are wise to their sales tactics and even being able to listen to the album before buying is a great thing. the marketplace has changed, and the majors are behind.

    Case in point - I can use an illegal service to download any album I wish in any quality at any point of the globe. If I try and buy a digital download, I'm given a geographically restricted (I'm not allowed to buy from Amazon), overpriced (check out Play's digital prices compared to their CDs) product that I can only sample tiny pieces of before paying and have no resale rights or recourse if I realise I've been ripped off. In other words, the pirates cater to every single consumer need better than the labels (and I'm not including price in that assessment).

    Want to keep your market? Do a better job of selling your product.

  40. David Hadley
    Paris Hilton

    The Analogies Don't Work...

    ...for either side, for or against. An extra digital copy doesn't cost anything to produce, doesn't deprive anyone of anything and copy 1 000 is just as good as copy number 1. In short music has lost its scarcity value through being so easy to replicate and it is that - simple supply and demand - that controls the price or lack of it.

    Last I heard the world wasn't suffering from a global shortage of pop stars - if anything there is a glut. If they were still working in a factory instead of being pop stars and their factory was no longer producing what people wanted to buy then no-one would suggest we keep paying them to produce their widgets. They are not owed a living just because they style themselves as 'artists'. I write poetry - I rarely get paid for it when it gets published (and then only trivial amounts), but then I know that and accept it and know that I'm highly unlikely to do it for a living, but I carry on because... well, that is what I do.

    I haven't heard of that many rock stars giving it all up and getting a job cleaning windows or whatever recently either, so they should consider themselves lucky that anyone at all is ready to spend their hard-earned money on the outpourings of pop stars.

    If every tunesmith in the world just gave up tomorrow, how long do you think it would be before we all crawled to their doors dragging bags of gold begging for just one more tune? I think it would be a very long time - perhaps instead we'd all learn how to whistle instead.

    Paris 'cos there are certain 'talented' people I find it so easy to live without.

  41. Nick Miles


    Thanks for reminding me what a great artist and Bloke Mr W Bragg is. I'm off to download his backcatalogue right now.

  42. Chris

    Costs of music production, and promotion options

    One thing that often seems to be ignored is that the cost of producing good quality recordings, for indie artists, isn't cheap. As such, they *need* to see a return on investment, whether by CD sales, download sales, or whatever. Loss leaders really *are* for indies, in way that they aren't for the majors.

    And re: AC who wrote "Some things may have changed but ": Bragg's quite right to acknowledge that regular gigging isn't available to everyone as a promotional route, for a number of reasons. A few examples: your music isn't completely mass market, so your choice of venues and locations is limited; your band is spread over 60 miles or so geographically; everyone has a day job (which helps you afford the kit needed to record music well, the gear you need for gigs, etc)

    Not everyone can be starving 20 year old students, living in a shitey bedsit, gigging around London most nights of the week trying to get noticed. I really resent the implication that if you're not doing that then your music probably isn't worth consideration, or that you're perceived as not putting the effort in.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Re: Patronage ...

    "I would like to see some form of return to patronage- Fans would pay a stipend to their favourite artists and in return will receive access to their works both recorded and live. This could work in many different genres and media, not only music."

    Einsturzende Neubauten tried that with their "Perpetuum Mobile" (I think) album - it didn't work quite as well as you'd think but, to their credit, they're persevering with that particular 'business model' (for want of a better description) - see

    Personally I'll keep trawling through the multitudinous netlabel releases, most of which are released under some kind of creative commons license. Granted, the quality of the stuff is wildly variable but it's almost all better than the sort of turgid crap that populates the charts these days.

    Dead vulture, 'cos that the best approximation to the 'mainstream' music industry I could find.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    A lot of people here...

    Have not got a frigging clue what its like to try and earn a living as an artist...

    Make money just on gigs? Maybe it works at the moment, but not for some one who for one reason or another doesn't play live, and certainly not for songwriters... And absolutely not for bands who are startuing out and pretty much end up paying to play these days... But there have been plenty of times in the past when the gigs were basically subsidised by record sales anyway.

    As for "I haven't heard of that many rock stars giving it all up and getting a job cleaning windows or whatever recently either". Get bloody real mate. What the hell do you think happened to all those one hit wonders and all the rest of it? Read the "Where are they now" features in Q Magazine... Think about all the people who never made enough of a living to go full on pro anyway.. There are some bloody amazing musicians who have given it up: some of my all time favourites in fact...

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Does anyone miss the irony...

    That Billy Brag couldn't get enough of Communism in the 90's, and now he is pissed off that people want to get his work for free? Work to your ability Billy, we'll take what we need, you pinko commie fuckstick!

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    only the other day I purchased 11 copies of a single so I could get 8 handshaking events with AKB48 girls and 3 akb posters (I managed to get one of the 43 signed ones ho ho ho go me.)

    Also purchased £400 worth of Berryz, Hello project and morning musume concerts, all to watch on my new TV.

    O after buying the 11 copies of the single I gave 8 of them to people in the maid bar we were drinking in.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Web 2.0

    Why do you persist in using this "Web 2.0" phrase sh*t ?

    Anyone that reads El Reg will be more than aware of what a load of marketing cobblers the phrase is. I can only hope you are using it with tongue firmly in cheek.

    You'll be making news space for "the semantic web" next. Oh.. Errrrr.....

    Paris because she quite rightly never troubled herself with semantics.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Freetard responses

    It's interesting to read the variety of justifications people make for not paying for music. So I made a list:

    "I would like to see some form of return to patronage"

    TRANSLATION: I'm a tightwad.

    "...he could get a real job"

    TRANSLATION: I hate music. Your life will be as shitty as mine.

    "As a consumer what I would like to see is the majority of music released by an artist under a CC license"

    TRANSLATION: As a tightwad, I hate paying for anything.

    "Its about time the Record Industry stopped producing Plastic Pop Groups and shows like The X Factor should stop their "talent" shows for 1 hit wonders and actually release music from artists that can play a proper instrument(s)."

    TRANSLATION: Because I think some music is rubbish, I'm not going to pay for any of it.

    "The smart creative artists will however make it through though, as will the man."

    TRANSLATION: I can download stuff and it's not my problem. My actions have no consequences.

    "The sense of entitlement that stems from many "artists" is completley out of align with thier respective talents."

    TRANSLATION: Some artists are greedy, so none of them will get my money.

    "If they're smart enough, song writers and artists will make the most of the new, cheaper publicity and distribution channels and only the music execs will suffer, at the expense of the web VCs."

    TRANSLATION: With my imaginary money, you can pay the rent.

    "Want to keep your market? Do a better job of selling your product."

    TRANSLATION: But don't try selling it to me, I'm a tightwad.

  49. Saul Dobney

    Up the workers

    There's a lack of perspective. Artists have come believe that for six weeks in the studio, they're due 46 weeks off because they should be able to live off the sales of that 6 week's work (and even retire off the proceeds).

    As an alternative look at classical musicians who don't have the luxury of large recording contracts and work at music like a regular job. It's how musicians used to work - you don't play, you don't eat. It doesn't stop you becoming rich or famous, it just takes more time, more dedication and more skill.

    The thing with the internet is that for small bands it doesn't make that much difference - it increases the audience, gets more people to gigs and has the potential of getting more buyers to find your music. And the upside is there with the internet you should be able to earn a hell of a lot more per copy of your music sold with no middle men involved (at least if the MCPS dragged itself into the 21st Century). If you're a musician who is willing to work, the Internet should work for you as it has the ability to increase your income as a live act and distribute your music to willing buyers, network with fans and generally make money at your music.

    It's the larger and more famous acts that copytheft affects most as it slows down the gravy-train and cuts into the stupidly large income for them and for their record producers/advisors etc.This is what's hurting the industry - major acts simply stop being so valuable because of the copying. But then they do have really abnormal expectations of what they should earn from a few days work.

    I'd be after more working musicians playing live please, and fewer high-rollers, fat cats and manufactured acts. I would have thought Billy would be with the workers on this one (and Billy was the first live music I ever paid to see).

  50. Geoff Mackenzie

    Some pretty moronic arguments from Paytards

    > Uh... a clepto doesn't plan on buying the things they steal.. but it's still theft.

    Yes, but in this case the physical object *is* gone; in a shop it's a genuine lost sale, from an individual it's a genuine loss of property.

    > Riiiight. Then it's ok if your boss decides to hold back the money for work you do each day? He's not taking any physical items, since it's money you never had in the first place.. so the loss of income is ok, right?

    It's not OK, but it's not theft. It's breach of contract.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    @David Hadley

    ".for either side, for or against. An extra digital copy doesn't cost anything to produce, doesn't deprive anyone of anything and copy 1 000 is just as good as copy number 1. In short music has lost its scarcity value through being so easy to replicate and it is that - simple supply and demand - that controls the price or lack of it."

    Music never had a "scarcity value". CDs were never scarce, the main value was in up-front investment in IP that record companies made before pressing them, the CD actually cost fuck all to manufacture.

    The cost of physically manufacturing something isn't the whole cost of "making" that product. Zero cost for a digital copy is only true in a world where we don't recognise intelectual property.

    IP exists because it costs money to create it; in the arts world its paying for the artists and engineers that create the recordings, in manufacturing it's the R&D that goes into the product, not to mention the cost of advertising and promotion. These are real costs that are paid for by companies before a single product can be sold; grown-ups call this "investment". The whole freetard argument is that someone else has already paid the investment, so why should I pay anything?

    If you can't protect IP, then what you're saying is that any investment in IP has to be covered in the sale of the first unit, because after that anyone can "share" the IP and use it to produce that product without any hindrance.

    Imagine a situation in which the first unit of Intel's new CPU costs millions of dollars (the cost of R&D plus the cost of making it) and then each extra CPU costs a few dollars (the cost of physically making it). The only reason any product with expensive R&D can be sold at a realistic price is that the investment in IP is protected either by copyright or patent and can then be amortised over the number of units sold.

    In a world without IP we'd never get any innovation as no-one could develop anything without the investment in R&D being STOLEN by competitors as soon as the first few units became available.

  52. Nick Woodson

    Billy's right

    I have a lot of respect for the man as an artist and I believe that he has a right to is belief. Let's face it...there are tons of songwriters, performers and arrangers who have to fight to get their fair share of their own creations. The sad reality is that it's similar Microsoft trying to co-opt FOSS so that they can get money from someone else's work.

    Artists deserve the lion's share of the proceeds of their creations. It’s funny how people argue that it shouldn't be that way. The investment argument is great for "the capitalist", but does squat for the artist. All of the RIAA suits that have succeeded have made money for the record labels, but how much did the artists really get. The IP argument sucks because ASCAP, BMI, etc. manage to somehow restrict the rights of the artist/composer/arranger (I'm not a lawyer, but it's still true) in favor of the producers/promoters and "copyright holders" (read: patent trolls).

    Capitalism by definition is predatory…and nobody likes a predator with an unfair advantage. If we’re serious (which I don’t believe we are) we need to press for new equity laws rather than beating the dead horse of music downloads.

  53. Simp

    I'm a freetard...not overly happy about it though

    As the title suggests i download music once in a while without paying for it (or intent), to the artists i apologise but in truth i have been living off five pounds for the past few weeks now (Easter holidays at uni).

    Presented with the option of paying £1 for a song or getting the whole album for free, it's a bit of a no-brainer and i'm not going to try and justify it. What i do object however is how artists have to sign their liberties away so that one day i might hear their music.

    If i went out to start a business selling something everyone wanted i wouldn't expect to pay more for the right to sell more, i'd want to pay my rent and other overheads and everything else is mine. At the same time fair play to the industry for taking a slice but does it really have to be a chip off every plate :(

    Most the music i listen to i'm never going to hear on the radio or MTV, who's heard of Nujabes or LTJ Bukem??? Messing around on the internet downloading random albums has allowed me broaden my musical senses beyond what i ever imagined compared to the old days where i used to buy "Now that's what i call mass produced garbage 5000"

    Show me a way to put money directly in to the artists pocket and occasionally i will, i feel ethically responsible to but, from each £1 i give them i want more than 17P to go to the friggin artist!!! How much money do people need *coughs at record industry*, i wear a big smile all day and am almost penniless.

    Just be fair and care if you can

  54. Tom

    @ Richard Eustace

    "Would the analogy not be more like staying in a hotel but leaving without paying,

    You haven't stole the room, you have taken nothing tangable but the hotel still had to be built and paid for."

    No that's no better then the "it's the same as stealing the CD crap"

    - You only have one room 302, no one else can rent it if I'm in it.

    - You still pay to wash the sheets, make the bed, pay for water and electricity...

    In short you are out real money, if I skip out on the bill you have less money now then you did before I arrived even if the room would have been empty. You are affected in a negative way.

    If I copy something you are unaffected. You have not gained or lost anything.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Theres a group I like, Within Temptation.

    If it wasn't for youtube, I would never have got into them.

    If it wasn't for free downloading, I would not have maintained an interest.

    As it is, I've now paid for downloads of all their albums, [which of course I didn't bother to actually do, having already got them as a torrent], ordered 1 hard copy online, been to see them twice, and bought a moderate amount of merchandise.

    Tot it all up, thats about £250. Not bad considering im a "freetard"

    Oh yeah, and I recommend them to all and sundry, last count 4 new fans all a spendin..

    if you like hard rock music with fantastic female vocals, try:

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shurely shome mishtake....

    Comments on an Orlowski article? What's the world coming to?

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What a bunch of losers

    Too stupid and untalented to do anything for yourself so you compensate by convincing yourselves that those who can do something owe you and should be grateful to you.

    Without artists the world would be as dull as you are.

    Just as sad is the fact that you don't even have a clue as to how pathetic you are.

  58. Ishkandar

    @Stop sayings it like stealing stuff!!

    The songwriter and/or the performer have sweated blood to get the song/tune right so that we can enjoy it. THAT effort should be rewarded. Anything else is theft !! If that anonymous *COWARD* was forced to work for no payment, he, too, would not be a happy chappy !!

    Web 2.0 sites are just parasites trying to get something for nothing; sucking the lifeblood out of the truly creative people. What have these parasites done or produced to deserve any payment ?? If you look at the roll call of dishonour of the Web guys you'll find the lowest of the low lives who exist below the belly of the worm that crawls upon the ground !!

    To call them prostitutes is to insult prostitution; which can be an honourable profession !!


  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Geoff... .

    Take the points made by those statements... and refute them using the points they were refuting... not by going Oh.. but what about *this* angle.

    The points they were refuting was

    1. if I wasn't intending to purchase it anyway, then....

    Nothing to do with the physical object being gone on that one... just the lack of intent to purchase.

    2. there's no physical loss so it's not theft.

    The point there (draws picture) was that there'd be no physical loss of an item.. you'd just be lacking in pay for work you'd performed, much like the artist who'd not be receiving pay for the work they'd performed in the creation of their music.

    Pedantic much?

    You can nitpick as much as you like....

    It still doesn't make it morally right.

  60. Ishkandar


    Therein lies the twist !! On the one hand, the websites say that songs are intangible and therefore shouldn't be paid for. And on the other hand, they insist that their "publicity" is a tangible thing and therefore should be paid for !! HUH ???

    Is it just me or can anyone else see the *big lie* in their argument ??

    The same applies to software (and novels/books and poems and any other intellectual products) !!

  61. Ishkandar

    Lessig's book

    I wonder what will happen if someone scanned the whole of Lessig's book on copyright and put it up for free downloading on the web ??

    Would he say, "Wow !! A proof of my concept !!" or would he come charging at you with a battailion of lawyers ??

  62. Jeremy Wickins

    Hmmmm ...

    I have favourite performers, but I'm not so stupid as to buy even from them unless I know there is at least something on there that I like. For instance, I'm a great Kate Bush fan, but I paused a long time before buying the most recent album, because I was unhappy with the first single released, and waited until I heard more. If I didn't like that, then the album would not be on my shelf, as it is now. Those previews came from the radio (BBC), but I'm more and more getting tempted to use download sites to check out new acts before buying, because radio programming is generally so much up the arse of the record companies that it is rare that anything new and good (in my, necessarily subjective, terms) is aired (Mika, Duffy, Amy Whorehouse??? - utter bollocks). Where would I find great bands like Camper Van Beethoven (okay, a bit old now, but new to me) if friends didn't lend me ripped CDs so I can buy the stuff I like? This is all a bit subjective to this point, but there has been a saying in English for a long time - "Don't buy a pig in a poke" (i.e. don't buy what you can't examine). We have long been expected to do this with albums, and it is unacceptable.

    On a different topic, I agree with Billy Bragg that the actual producers of the music (writers, performers, producers) are entitled to fair remuneration for their work once they have an audience - if you like it, buy it, go to the gigs, buy merchandise, whatever. However, it is now time for the musical artists to take their talents away from the piss-artists of the record companies. Unfair contracts, poor royalties: why put up with it when good results can be gained with home recording, and the internet can be used to reach a world-wide audience? Build up an audience, then, if REALLY necessary, use solid figures to have the whip-hand over the companies. The biggest, longest lasting bands (Beatles, Bowie, Floyd, etc) did this, though by gigging, not the internet.

    Just my two-penn'orth...

  63. James Butler

    Freetards, indeed

    Anyone who thinks stealing a copy of someone's art is just fine is, indeed, retarded.

    Retarded in the sense that they are very slow to understand the reality of the situation: There IS no "original" when it comes to music, stupids! A television is a corporeal object that is able to be stolen by carrying it out of your house. A song is able to be stolen by making an unauthorized copy of it. Duh!

    Anyone who downloads music or video or any number of other intangible art forms without the artist's permission or payment to the artist should be dragged naked through the streets and have a video of their "performance" posted on YouTube with the tag line: "Look, Ma! No brain! (and no pants, neither)" You are all morons and selfish bastards. May a cat sh*t in your boots.

  64. Jon Cutting

    The times they are a-changing

    I certainly have some sympathy for the artists here, although hearing pop stars talk about giving up the fucking day job that they fucking hate doesn't augment the sentiment.

    The artists are paying the price for the incredible inertia and short-sightedness with which the music industry met the internet. Instead of embracing this new age, the industry resisted until it couldn't hold back the tidal wave any longer. Even now, instead of treating the music buying public (who for years were shamelessly milked for as much as was possible) as generally decent folk who will feel an obligation to pay a reasonable price for music they like, the record companies still seem to be clinging to a model in which the (now tech savvy) listener will pay over the odds for digitally crippled drek. And alienating many of their target audience with fatuous litigation against those with very little ability to pay.

    No it doesn't make it right to download music for free, but this model is broken, and it's time for a new one that works.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    In my new life

    At one point in the last 10 years I was a semi-pro musician. I supplemented my day job with gig earnings and record sales. The band I was in was good, and we played with the Libertines, Contempo (now Hard-Fi), The Rakes (and so on), and got good write ups for our gigs and records in the press (NME, Time out etc.).

    We were eventually offered a contract by a big record label, after a ego gratifying bidding war. The deal we were offered was for £250k. However, once the deductions were done (marketing, use of a studio owned and staffed by the record company and so forth), the "deal" was worth fuck all.

    Said winning bidder was told to fuck off- we'd rather split up (and did).

    This was a few years ahead of myspace and consumer broadband. If we'd had the following we had then a mere 12 months later, I can safely say we would have either gotten a better deal from the record company (three letters and sounds like Rod Hull's pet, fact fans) or we could have gone it alone, like the Arctic Monkeys did.

    Broadband at home allowed musicians to deal direct to Joe P.

    Record companies are large credit clearing houses, and any band worth their salt could nowadays get by without them.

    I, however, dropped out of music and now make 50K a year as an IT manager. With that as my alternative to writing and playing music, I am considerably less sexually experienced, have never seen the inside of The Priory, but am a homeowner and have made a social contribution above and beyond keeping indie virgins miserable. It's worked out well for all involved, but I can't help wondering if I was in the new Beatles, and would have somehow ended up delivering World peace, a cure for cancer and a grand unified theory of everything.

    Still. maybe I'll do all that once I've retired.

    Paris, as she's never missed an opportunity to get rocked.

  66. Anonymous Coward

    Wow.... what a sad realization

    I find it tragic to read the of the proclamations of entitlement, concerning music. Even though a D/L isn't a physical object, in the context of an actual CD or LP (remember those?), it is still an item that was created by someone else, in an effort to support themselves. And any artist who says "it's all about the music" is full of shit, up to their ears. I've been around musicians all my life and I have yet to meet one who wouldn't jump at the chance to get paid for doing what they love.

    I am still somewhat slack jawed that some of you feel no remorse over pirating music. But hey, that's between you, the legal system and the copyright holder, should you ever get caught.

    Fact of the matter is, you're still stealing something that: A) something you didn't create from complete and total scratch; B) receive permission from the person/entity, who actually holds the copyright of the item, to redistribute it; & C) Every time you redistribute an illegal copy, you're just removing any incentive for an artist, group or record label to make the investment to produce new products.

    So, feel free to rationalize and legitimize stealing, you're living proof of the devolution and breakdown of a civilized society. And while you're only satisfying your selfish needs right now, you're fucking the rest of us long term. So, thanks alot.

  67. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    To be honest

    To be honest the so called new music from the big four labels sucks big time , with a SONY flogging the clone artist genre to death , most of the new releases this century except for the very odd and rare gem , are for the most part just a pure toxic waste of space !

    The smaller independent labels seem to have a better eclectic line up and superior variety of styles to suit the tired ears looking for something different !

    But since the age of mass production , those that control it have always sought ways and means to exclude the artist from their just rewards and the modern recording contract for the arriving artists are designed by legal vampire specialists to suck blood out of stone period at every level possible !

    As for self management , some people have overlooked the simple fact that on any given day it is only twenty four hours no more no less , and things are as never as simple as they look , as at the end of the day the tax man wants his cut first from any income derived , although the big four record company vampires can make it appear as though the profits are synthetic losses using questionable illegal concepts to avoid paying taxes , but these techniques as a whole are not available to ordinary individuals !

    One merely has to look at just how much more the groups and individual musicians actually make from live performances free from these vampires evil contracts !

    The cure unfortunately to eliminate these vipers , is to permanently remove them from the food chain , but as veneer of civilisation progresses they are on the same endless conveyor belt of self replication , so as fast as you eliminate one batch the parent hydra grows replacement units just as quick !

    An interesting conundrum he raises indeed !

  68. Jamie Kitson


    Maybe you could get his brother in on the subject, him that uses all those long words on that program on Radio 4.

    Mine's the one with the re-writeable CD in the pocket.

  69. Colin Jackson
    Thumb Down

    But wait...

    I spend far more on live gigs than on recorded music. I did before filesharing took off, and still do now. I went to the trouble of checking my diary for 2007 and checking my CD rack - number of gigs attended 23, number of CDs bought direct from the artist at gigs 13, number of CDs bought via a retailer 2. That's never going to change. Tickets for a live gig go between £10-£30, CDs at gigs are usually around a tenner, throw in a couple of t-shirts. Why the fuck are artists worrying about those 2 CDs I got from Amazon which they probably only make a few pennies on anyway?

    In any case, I thought we'd established a clear (and positive) correlation between an individual's inclination to fileshare and their inclination to spend money on music? Aren't filesharers the biggest purchasers? So what's the problem? Either filesharing is pushing music buying, or at the very worst filesharing is not impacting buying. At the end of the day, nobody can actually establish that filesharing is doing any harm. For all Bragg or any fucker else knows, it's actually driving sales. Tell me I'm wrong, but show me the figures if you do.

    When did it become received wisdom that an 'artist' can do a job once and make money off it for the rest of his natural? Somebody pointed out that classical musicians work for a living. I'd add folk musicians to that too - Bragg should know this, he's performed with enough of them in his time. They don't expect a big enough audience to get by on CD sales, so they treate it as both an art-form and a regular paying job. The good ones thrive. The bad ones aren't being propped up by studio money, and have to go back to the army.

    If you can't perform live, you're not an artist. If you can't do it well enough and often enough to make a living at it, then you're not a musician. Bragg's never going to starve because he can shove his guitar and amp in the back of the Mondeo and go do some gigs. In fact, you might argue that's his reason for being on the planet.

  70. Pierre

    Theft really?

    Enough with this lame argument. Artists and songwriters were starving and are still starving to allow parasitic major labels to do huge profits. We're in an era in which physical distribution is not difficult nor expensive, not to mention "virtual" distribution. Major labels have build their fortune on their monopole on physical distribution, now they realize that it's slipping out of their hands. As they failed to come up with viable alternatives and tried to make even more money out of that (they do distribute "virtual" music, but they charge the same to the customer -who has to pay the bandwith and the physical support on top, and gets a crippled file- and they pay the artists even less). So yes, people end up "stealing" music. But the majors had it coming, indeed.

    Now they're trying to hide their greedy parasitic behaviour by using the "cloud" of pirates as scapegoats. Pay artists and songwriters correctly, and charge a price reflecting your costs to the customers, and the piracy "problem" will vanish by itself. The more they insist in their stupid ways, the more people will get used to "steal" music, and the less likely we are to end up with a sane distribution scheme.

    And please no objections like "we're charging a lot because we're taking risks as we support new talents". The majors stopped doing that ages ago. Small "indy" labels do that. And most of the time they sell music cheaper, even though their costs are higher. The fact is, they're doing their job, unlike majors for which music is nothing more than a a product they trade to finance new villas and expensive cars. It is interesting to note that the majors do their best to crush these labels, too. Support independant labels, and brick the RIAA.

  71. daiakuma

    Yes, it is stealing, and yes, the effect is the same

    You're a student in a student flat, and your flatmate is a freetard freeloader who steals your milk.

    The freetard possibly thinks: "Milk is in effectively infinite supply; it's just data, an arrangement of molecules which can be reproduced endlessly by the mammary glands of cows in accordance with DNA programming. Therefore I'm taking nothing from my flatmate when I take milk."

    The first sentence of the freetard's thought is correct, the second does not follow. The thieving freetard has deprived the victim of the benefits they reasonably expected after expending time, effort and money to get milk from the shop. The victim experiences disappointment at the loss of this expected benefit, is pained to see that some people cannot be trusted, and is motivated to take expensive measures to prevent future milk theft, or possibly simply to stop buying milk in future.

    The long term outcome of freetard thievery is that everyone loses, even the freetard.

    As with milk, so with music, writing, video, software, inventions, design, photography, painting, et cetera.

  72. MarkMcA

    Wandering minstrels were not traditionally millionaires

    ...and soon they never will be again. Ever thought how illogical it is that someone who cures killer diseases makes less money than a pop 'star'?

    Songwriters have no divine right to be millionaires. They write songs, ffs. Big deal.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Music 'fartists'

    Music artists seems like an oxymoron when applied to popular music artists. Most songs these days been covers or sounding scarily similar to songs from the past, but not quite a cover. Most popular music artists are as about artistic as a viola player in a full orchestra. At least a humble viola player has some musical talent, which nearly all popular music artists severely lack.

    Really, the only true, creative music artists are Jazz musicians. A Jazz artists lives by the art of improvisation, a creative stream that best works in a live performance. So to appreciate true artistic music, you need to get to a Jazz gig and live the experience with the musicians. As such, Jazz records aren't the real deal, you had 'to be there'.

    So my point is if you want to call music art, the true artist will pursue creating regardless of the rewards. ( Anyone know of a living mega-wealthy poet that got mega-wealthy on poetry alone? ). If music artists can no longer achieve mega-wealth on the back of a US Top Ten single, so be it. Like type-writer technicians, that way to wealth has passed. If they have a burning desire to 'create', create away, don't expect to get rich. Think of those expensive instruments as 'investments' and all that recording time you pay for as a part of your 'hobby', as in Rod Stewart doesn't expect his record company to buy his model trains, he pays for them himself as that is his hobby. And pray if I like your single, that I go out and buy it 'cause I am not buying your anti-freetard crap.

  74. Karl Lattimer

    Job offer: Lynch mob

    Heh, want ads on the reg, well here it is;

    WANTED: Three or four individuals of high moral standing, which can compromise some morals for the good of humanity.

    Your duties will include, mobbing, and thereafter lynching of Simon Cowell, plenty of room for artistic and creative outpouring, enjoyment of this fixed term contract can be found in the following areas, torturing: for instance, putting him in a shipping crate subjected to his pop creations including but not exclusive to Five and Westlife, Water boarding - not considered torture "if we do it", and of course my personal favorite, defecating on his shoes!

    applications in the usual way.

  75. heystoopid

    Interesting Conundrum

    Interesting conundrum !

    Let's face it , it is the old story of you get what you pay for and pay for what you get !

    Now , since the turn of the 20th century the the big four labels and it's past predecessors have had the bean counters conspiring with the aid of evil legal vampires a since the dawn of mass production and at every change of music reproduction technology of popular music issued contracts that literally extract more and more blood out a stone from every corner at every turn of the screw possible !

    Since the dawn of the 21st century at least a minimum of 99 % of the music the big four labels have put on general release was of the basic variety "gee whiz I wish I never hear this dog and cat whipping rubbish ever again !" and that too is reflected in how quick they decline on the sales charts of in one day then instantly gone the next lost in the sea of noise . The independent labels in various countries were left to cater for the more discerning eclectic non mainstream audiences or show case the next generation trends ignored for the most part mainstream garbage trash can releases .

    In 2000 , Shawn Fanning talking to the big four labels , pointed out that his file sharing network was actually boosting the sales of new music CD's that main stream corporate radio refused to play as there was no financial kickback/bribe incentive from the mainstream labels to do so !

    Now , the 1998 Bono Act in the US gave the main labels a new legal way to put their claws into how , when , when , where and new income streams from all music venues and mobile phone ring tones too(fact mechanical royalties figures now outstrip most other items on their balance sheet as a prime source of clear gross profit income) , thus in a form of absolute greed they also began to spread one total and biggest lie about Music Piracy killing music in order to close down the so called music sharing networks and commenced legal action after rejecting Shawn's profit share idea in 2000 (Yet in fact since 2000 , a Rolling Stone Magazine article showed that all new music sales of CD's have declined a massive 60% in volume in the last seven years , yet the main record company profits increased , so guess who gets paid less now ?) !

    Self management is never as simple as it looks and the Tax rules that apply to the self employed are totally different from the ordinary transparent ones the man in street with a normal job sees , as allied to entertainment hours that are variable and well outside the normal nine to five job description !

    Yes he has a truly interesting conundrum , sign a crap contract and hope the big four honour the terms without excessive deductions and wait about 3 years when the payments after first advance may start to come in or may be not , with hold and sign with a smaller independent label and address a different class of punter or self publish direct via the internet and cut out the other level of blood sucking vampires that infest the industry from A through Z , whilst the chief main source of his income irrespective of the label contract value , actually comes from direct public appearance !

    Choices , talk about multi faceted skills required just to survive in the entertainment industry of today outside that of pure talent , one needs an honest contract lawyer , an honest accountant , an honest investment manager , an honest manager , an honest recording producer/sound engineer and a computer whizz just to look after your interests whilst swimming in a sea of voracious hungry sharks skilled at stripping everything to the bone in the blink of an eye !

    Sadly , as always in this industry nothing is ever as simple as it seems !

  76. Mark

    @Alan Mellor

    Actually, you CAN sell a track to someone that has already taken a bootleg copy.

  77. ratfox


    I like the way you say that artists shouldn't expect to earn a living of the music they make.

    I guess you shouldn't expect the music to be any good either... Why should they try to make it good, if they get nothing in return? Why should they make a high quality recording? They can listen to what they play, and nobody else cares, right? I mean, if they'd CARE about the music, they'd be willing to actually PAY for it...

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never mind the bollox

    ...just charge a decent rate for decent music and the rest will follow.

    Why overcomplicate the issue? Artists need to be paid. Yes, they need somewhere to live, food to eat and clothes to wear. Just like the rest of us. The trouble is... ah fuck it. Why bother?

    Just give me a place and a space, virtual or physical to listen to and buy music (at a decent sound quality) for an honest price and I will gladly buy it. Simple!

  79. Joe Cooper
    Thumb Down


    There's a lot of really lame rationalizations on here.

    @Ben Davies

    So you're saying it's okay to copy the music because... it's not worth having? It's not good?

    Then why the hell do you want it? Obviously if someone is bothering to download it, they must like it. I call bullshit.

    As for live performances, I somehow doubt any of you have researched the economics of it.

    But regardless, a normal person can't spend their whole life in a tour bus doing live performances everywhere. That isn't a way to make a living. There are enormous costs to doing a concert, gas prices are rising, real estate prices are a factor for venues, etc.

    You people are all selfish tarts and the artists are the only losers here. Trying to turn this into a "down with the faceless corporations!" thing is pure bullshit. All that's going to happen is an even SMALLER amount of people will be getting even MORE money.

  80. B Bauer
    Thumb Up

    Downloading as preview

    I'm glad he at least acknowledged (in the second audio) that there are music lovers that download this stuff just to see if they like it enough to buy it. Those defending the death of free downloading usually act like we don't exist.

    For example, I have purchased 234 paid downloads in the past 3 months. I've bought CDs as well. Nearly all were discovered via "illegal" downloads. I will never buy a song that I haven't heard - I've been burned too many times by that. 30-second samples usually are such a poor representation of the song that I don't even count that as having heard that song. There were some other albums that I couldn't preview in full, so I didn't risk buying them. This latter case seems to be what the major music labels wants, so its no surprise they're failing.

    I hardly bought any music in the 1990s. I had no chance to preview most of them (other than a couple of songs), so of course I was disappointed most of the time.

    My advice would be to avoid downloading from labels that have shown themselves willing to sue their customers, like those in the RIAA. If that means you don't buy it...well, its their call.

  81. Mark Talbot

    Well you make money from myspace and the rest

    You make money from the fair share proportion of myspace's advert revenue (which is what now actually do), gigging, selling of music, donations, film/tv scores and anywhere somebody wants to make money from it.

    The part that really pisses me off, is all these ageing artists who expect there recordings the did 30 years ago. Now i'm a programmer, i create software hence i'm a creative. But i don't expect the software i get paid for to write yesterday to pay me tomorrow. What people like Billy Brag and Cliff Richard are asking for is to have an easy life because there musically talented. Well you should do like the rest off us do and put aside some of the money you make today to cover when you too old to work. If you were to greedy and drugged up to do that the well take a state pension and do like the rest off us have too.

    Now i am a so called freetard yet i probably spend more money on music and gigging (about £500 in the last year) than anybody i know. now if there where 60 - 100 people paying out that money each that covers one artist so it doesn't really take a genius to work out that you can support a rather large number of artists of off only a relatively small proportion of the population. Copyright was instigated to protect artists and creative's so that they could make a living but so that it would enrich us as a whole. With the current costs of production that happens in a much shorter period of time.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quality of product vs. justifications of theft

    Several folks attempted to shore up their justifications of piracy by categorizing the music they're freeloading, as crap. Well, we agree on at least one thing: Most of it IS crap. But, regardless of your expertise in being a music critic, the fact that you're still stealing remains the same.

    Secondly, starving song writers & musicians getting fucked by greedy music companies. Excuse me, but just who is actually fucking whom? In todays world, damn near every professional song writer and musician gets paid for their efforts, hence the moniker Professional, as in that's how they keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table, etc. Secondly, the major record labels assume the financial risk of financing an album. It takes a pretty substantial amount of money to cover recording, mastering, engineering, manufacturing, packaging, marketing and distribution, plus all of the people who work in those respective areas, whose incomes YOU are adversely impacting, through theft.

    Yeah, I'll be the first to agree that the RIAA really dropped the ball when P2P became a viable distribution method. And I think they've shown people just how idiotic they look, by continuing to keep their heads buried in the sand, trying to protect the status quo. But come on, obtaining a MP3, through zero investment for that song is the same damn thing as going into the music store and pocketing a CD. The only difference is that electronic theft is easy enough for any idiot to do, much less risk and in some peoples minds, perfectly justifiable.

    As for the insinuated crack about the morality of it all. What about the value of your word & personal honor? Just because everybody does it, does that give me free license to assume that most people with mp3 players are thief's and liars?

  83. Glenn Gilbert

    Business opportunity...

    So some people download music. Once people have figured out where to dine at the 'all you can eat' download service for sod all, they'll download more music than they could possibly listen to.

    And so once they've discovered some obscure new music which they like, but can't get hold of it because it's not on iTunes' play list (or whatever). Or maybe they're not prepared to pay the going rate for it as it's just not good enough.

    Currently, nobody gets paid.

    Wouldn't it be great to go to a website, call it (that domain is available), and select the artist and make a 'donation'. The site will take a small admin fee and pass the rest of the payment directly on to the artist. For artists that aren't registered, the site will hold the money in suspense and actively hunt down that artist and make the payment when they're found (and verified). Sure, there's the issue of sorting out the song writers...

    The customer (paytard?) would get a certificate that's anonymised, and would be able to sleep in the knowledge that they've paid the artist.

    How much would the customer pay? How about whatever they like. Sure, they'd be guidelines, but lets face it, earning 50p=$1 is better than sod all. Ask Radiohead.

    The record company, well, it's up to the artist to square things with them. To be frank, it's not the customer's problem.

    As for the rest of the music industry, they're hardly going to like it as they're effectively being cut out of the loop. But hell, it's better than the current situation where nobody gets paid. Obviously it'll be important to keep the lawyers away from the customer payment data -- so it'll need to be located offshore (Sealand?).

    Some open accounting/auditing is very necessary. Hunting down the artists could be in the form of a Wiki or web-too-oh hive imagineering (is there a WikiMusicpedia?). The MusicalAmnesty site would do as much as they can to validate the artists prior to making the payment(s).

    The odd thing is that all of this exists with the MCPS (and the other lot) who collect payments from radio stations, etc. Except they don't know how to accept payments that aren't in the form of some 'tax' extracted from businesses.

    So Billy, what do you think? Is this rambling nonsense or putting power in the hands of the people?

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Since when

    Was it a right of musicians to make money? Or any artist for that matter? Why do they feel that because they've made some music they are automatically exempt from "their day jobs that they fucking hate". How do they think it is for the rest of us?

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's not just the artists that are feeling the pain

    All the talk has been about artists having the freeloaders stealing their stuff - well it is stealing isn't it? I mean, if you can't afford an ice cream you don't buy one, same here, if you can't afford it or just don't want to pay for it, don't have it.

    People forget about the many people who work in the industry, producers, recording engineers etc etc that are gradually working for nothing. These are people who spent years learning their trade, often for a pittance in the hope that if they managed to climb the ladder they could make an average income.

    I run a website that features these kinds of people and the thing that hits home is the number of people that nick the content, pics and video and pas it off as their own. It's not just artists that are being stolen from, writers, photographers etc are all being ripped off by people freeloading.

  86. JimC

    > don't expect the software i get paid for to write yesterday to pay me tomorrow.

    It does though... I bet there are lot of coders whose living comes from their companies selling applications which contains code of considerable ancestry... because that old code doesn't have to be rewritten if its still good there's more profit in the company... [Runs Help about on Notepad] (c) Microsoft corporation 1981-2001. So that's some twenty year old code still earning revenue... Frankly just another stupid argument...

  87. Shabble

    Market forces failiure

    Recent years have seen some very high-profile demonstrations of the shortcomings of Thatcher and Reagan’s ideology of the ‘marketplace as a social tool’. Whether its Big Pharm systematically suppressing important negative results in drug trials, the Credit Crunch, MS allegedly colluding with hardware companies to lie about Vista hardware requirements, the lack of proper safety checks in the US airline industry, ISPs selling services they do not have the ability to provide and BT apparently illegally monitoring customers’ surfing, the list of big companies screwing over the consumer or failing to provide the bare minimum service is lengthy (and these are merely the examples that have come to light over a period of a few months).

    The music industry is another example of the marketplace failing to provide anything like the best possible service that one could envisage. By consistently failing to promote innovative artists and genres over many years we find one of our most significant cultural forces is stagnant. Celebrity is more important than quality, whilst selling volume and dominating the market is more important than encouraging creativity and supporting new cultural movements.

    Perhaps we have reached the stage where big music is simply no longer up to the job. It is no coincidence that by far the most innovative area of music in the last twenty years (techno and its children) is the one where development of the genre is least reliant on the music industry. Here individuals have much greater control over both the production technology and the music distribution system (most production takes place at home, whilst the music is played live or in clubs by DJs and spreads through word-of-mouth, P2P and social networking websites) and so the genre is self-defining rather than directed by the music moguls.

    Also, we must wonder about the ethical justification for allowing the big labels and very successful artists to maintain an iron fist grip on back-catalogues. Up until the early sixties, mainstream popular music was (with a couple of notable exceptions) as it largely is now – disposable and unimaginative. The explosion of creativity in music that took place in the sixties, seventies and early eighties should be seen as a significant part of our cultural heritage. We may well not see a similar period for another hundred years (or more), and so we should consider making this cultural heritage widely and cheaply (if not freely) available to the general public. However, the current system means that artists and labels are dependent upon unit sales of old music, and, as the financial burden of this system has to be bourn by the consumer, it prevents millions upon millions of music lovers fully experiencing the huge musical archive of what is arguably the most important creative period of Western civilisation since the renaissance.

  88. Solomon Grundy

    @Give me the same right

    You are absolutely correct.

  89. Rich

    But Billy:

    Assuming you are right in all respects, how do you *stop* people who don't agree with you from ripping off your recordings?

    - by breaking down their doors (actually or metaphorically)?

    - by limiting the right to create certain software to trusted large corporations?

    Is that a good idea? Better than the alternative, which is (as here in New Zealand) that most musicians *do* have day jobs?

  90. Scott

    @ Richard Eustace @Tom

    Hmmm the hotel room still isn't quote right as Tom has pointed out.

    Maybe a better example would be coming to a city and staying at a friends house, or even better using a site like couch surfer.

    By offering a room for them to stay in they are depriving the hotel of a sale. But if they had to pay for a the room then maybe they would never have come in the first place.

    Still not right as the quality and experience would be different but just trying to expand on your example.

    i am sure people will come up with a valid metaphor one day

  91. Anonymous Coward

    Stop the real thieves

    Remove the RIAA (a know international criminal Cartel) and let the artists self publish (Everyone can do it for next to nothing).

    Music as alway been viewed as free by listeners, on radio and tv. If you like a artist you go to his concert if it ever get near you. this is how artists make money. The RIAA(well it's members) is stealing any profits artists whould have made from CD sale.

    what is the difference between recording a track off radio (last time i checked it was LEGAL) or d/L from the bit torrent? (beside quality, there is NONE).

    Artists. get off your ass and do gigs like you used to do, and you will not starve. and for god sake, don't use the RIAA as it is the most anti-consumers criminal gangs that have ever existed.

  92. paulc

    doesn't work...

    "Artists. get off your ass and do gigs like you used to do, and you will not starve. and for god sake, don't use the RIAA as it is the most anti-consumers criminal gangs that have ever existed."

    doesn't work... a lot of the venues are now getting away with "pay to play"... actually charging the artist a "fee" for the "privilege" of playing to an audience while they make like bandits on the door fees and drinks charges...

  93. JimC

    > a known international criminal Cartel

    The big lie eh?

    International? Nope. US.

    Criminal? Nope, Not that I can see.

    Cartel? Nope. Its a Trade association...

  94. Paul Talbot


    My, my, so many wrong-headed arguments and assumptions here on the part of the major label supporters...

    To the "musicians can't make money touring / don't want to tour" crowd: There arre literally hundreds of ways to make money from music. The way that's been most popular over the last few decades is the "make a recording, burn it to CD/tape/vinyl and sell copies of that" route. Whatever the reason, the bottom's falling out fo that market. That leaves all the other routes - licencing to TV/Movies/games/remixesetc., touring live, digital downloads (which many, many people still pay for), merchandising, etc., etc. Just because *you* haven't figured out how to leverage your music to make money doesn't means it's not possible.

    @PaulC - Bands have been doing this for a long time. If a venue is doing this for a proven, popular act, they're idiots. But, if you generate a fan base so that the venue knows that booking you will fill the house and make them money, they'll be more lenient.

    The wikipedia link you posted says "The practice began in Los Angeles, CA, during the 1980's. It has become common in many U.S cities at low-turnout all-ages shows where performers are required to guarantee a minimum attendance through pre-show ticket sales.". What's wrong with that? Is a club/bar meant to just accept a loss when your unpopular band attracts 5 people just so you can showcase your 'art'? Even popular bands with major label contracts often don't make a lot of money from CDs and have to make their fortunes with tours - why should your no-name act be any different?

    @AC: ""Want to keep your market? Do a better job of selling your product."

    TRANSLATION: But don't try selling it to me, I'm a tightwad."

    Nope, and thanks for demonstrating a common bad assumption.I don't buy major label content because they don't want to sell me DRM-free music in my region for a reasonable price. However, I do spend at least £30/month on an eMusic subscription, I have bought the Radiohead/NIN albums even though I could have them (legally) for free. I also buy music from AmieStreet, Beatport and the occasional live DVD or buy CDs if there's good extra material.

    But, almost all that money goes either directly to the artists or to independent labels. We're not hearing those labels moaning, what we're hearing is always from the major RIAA labels or artists who can't cope with the new business ideas involved in the digital age. Tough. The day I can buy a DRM-free digital download for a lower price than the CD (necessary because I can do less with an MP3 - e.g resellm read liner notes, etc - than I can with a CD), you'll get my money. otherwise, stop bitching about losing sales since you're refusing to sell the consumer what they want to buy.

    @JimC: "[Runs Help about on Notepad] (c) Microsoft corporation 1981-2001. So that's some twenty year old code still earning revenue... Frankly just another stupid argument..."

    Yes, it makes money for Microsoft. The original coders probably sold their rights to the code to Microsoft as part of their original contract, as many programmers do (code produced on company time is the company's code).

    So, yeah. The original coders still need to write code to make a living and don't make money for themselves unless they're still working for Microsoft and have a contract that allows them to. So, why should we not expect musicians to do the same?

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    In bizaro World Billy Bragg has non depressing happy songs

    Bottom line, I dont give a flying camel muck. WHEN has the artist gone, ew look customers paying too much, lets help THEM. Well bottom line I deal with record companies and the artist deal with record companies, stop bleeding on too me and cutting out the middle men. I paid alot for alot of CD's that have for rusted away and I have no legal recorse, so you know which way I voted. Yes without my wallet.

    They broke it, you let them, so as far as I'm conserned - you go fix it as frankly scarlet i dont give a dam.

    la le laa le la

  96. Karl Dallas

    Well . . . I'm happy to sing for free (on picketlines etc)

    I'm basically a demo singer (thought I've made a few pence from the Spinners' recording of my Family of Man song). And I'm happy if people pick up my songs and start making them their own.

    So I make them available, on my website ( or via YouTube etc.

    Bragg, of course, works primarily in the commercial sector so I suppose he has different priorities. I live on my old age pension (which is why I'm currently touring the country by bus to publicise the pensioners' free bus pass and collect signatures for a petition to get it extended to the whole of UK, 24/7).

    Copyright is part of the capitalist system to which I (and I assume Bragg) am totally opposed.

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ G Torrance

    "The difficulty is determining how many sales there would have been if free downloading wasn't possible. One side counts every free copy as a lost sale, while the other side counts none of them as lost sales. Neither is right."

    Selling illegal copies = lost sales so is theft.

    Listening to music you've downloaded and not buying it != lost sales, because you've decided not to buy it.

  98. Anonymous Coward

    let the artists live in your house...

    On one level I do believe the music industry has made a rod for it's own back; by insisting on DRM they more or less killed the downloads market before it started; personally I will never buy a download, I will get the CD and rip it because I want to know if my harddrive dies or I forget to backup the licence keys, I can still listen to the music.

    The problem comes with the fact that people are lazy greedy bastards. Any of us, given the choice of free or pay will take the free route. There isnt any utopic vision to this. The web 2.0 rubbish, bloggers, all of that lot are a bunch of self important wankers who actually think the ipod changed the world and that content somehow is magically produced from nothing. These are the kind of people who think sticking an ADSL connection into some african village will suddenly cure their poverty and starvation.

    As much as I dislike the music companies and would LOVE them to go to the wall, content will never be free. There is always a cost. Whether it be a new band gigging around Camden, burning copies of their own album and selling it for five quid to recoup the studio costs while doing the gig for free to build up a fan base. I mean lets forget analogies, they are all crap at the end of the day. Take a band, they have to pay for studio time (or pay for the equipment in the bedroom), they have to give up their own time to practice, they have to pay printing costs for flyers, chase bars and gig locations to be allowed to play and a lot of other stuff. This money has to come from somewhere.

    I am assuming that any of the people here who think that it should all be free would be willing to let me hijack their wireless to download a few complete seasons of Battlestar Galactica in HD as well as letting the artists they are saying should pay web 2.0 sites live in their houses and use their electricity to produce the music in the first place

  99. Eponymous Cowherd


    ***"Selling illegal copies = lost sales so is theft."***

    Incorrect. Just because someone buys a bootleg CD for a couple of quid does *not* mean they would have bought it at full price.

    ***"Listening to music you've downloaded and not buying it != lost sales, because you've decided not to buy it."***

    Incorrect. Just because someone downloaded for free does *not* mean they wouldn't have paid full price if the freetard option was not available.

    Its really not that clear cut. Freetardery does not always (often, IMHO) equal lost sales, but sometimes it does. What proportion of freetard downloads are lost sales? More than the freetards say (zero) and less than the pigopolists say (100%)

    If the average freetard could not download, how many (more) albums would he buy?

  100. Paul Talbot

    re: let the artists live in your house...

    "Any of us, given the choice of free or pay will take the free route."

    Wrong. Radiohead generated millions of sales with their giveaway. Nice Inch Nails have generated millions with their giveaway 4 albums. The exact dollar value is under debate, but there's no doubt that these artists made a profit *even after offering the product for nothing*! Especially with NIN's Ghosts I-IV (CC licenced therefore legally free for anyone to copy for nothing), this shows that there are still plenty of people out there wishing to pay the artist even if the freebie is on offer. It's not just with big-name bands either. The hip-hop group Atmosphere gave away an album at Christmas last year. I'd never heard of them before that, I have now bought their entire back catalogue purely due to that freebie.

    "As much as I dislike the music companies and would LOVE them to go to the wall, content will never be free. There is always a cost. Whether it be a new band gigging around Camden, burning copies of their own album and selling it for five quid to recoup the studio costs while doing the gig for free to build up a fan base. I mean lets forget analogies, they are all crap at the end of the day. Take a band, they have to pay for studio time (or pay for the equipment in the bedroom), they have to give up their own time to practice, they have to pay printing costs for flyers, chase bars and gig locations to be allowed to play and a lot of other stuff. This money has to come from somewhere."

    Yes. Yes it does. The point is that is DOESN'T have to come just from selling CDs. Also, your examples listed above are, frankly, tosh. The flyers, advertising and practice are called investment. Nobody's going to turn up to watch a band they've never heard of play songs they haven't practiced at playing. After that, yes they pay for studio time but they pay for that mainly so that they can get the expertise of experienced engineers and producers who can help them get the best out of their music. This is again an investment - more people will pay for a well-produced collection of good songs than something thrown together in someone's garage.

    The money has to come from somewhere? Yes, it comes from the people who have been convinced to turn up for the gig (possibly after sampling the music for free), and then will buy T-shirts, CDs and other merchandising either at the gig or later on (if the band are any good, of course). They will then recommend you to other people, who may sample the music for free beforehand but then turn up for the gig, but the merchandising, etc. You build a fanbase, then leverage that fanbase to negotiate better deals with venues, suppliers, convince people to licence your music, etc. There are revenue streams that didn't exist 20 years ago - e.g. videogame licencing - as well as opportunities to make and distribute music at a much lower cost than ever before. Don't cry about it because you're trying to depend on the one and only part of the music industry (selling pre-recorded bits of plastic) that's in decline.

    @EC: "What proportion of freetard downloads are lost sales? More than the freetards say (zero) and less than the pigopolists say (100%)"

    Finally, I agree with someone 100%. This is the problem - sales are indeed generated by free content. What's up for debate is how much this is, and whether or not it's more than the sales "lost" from freeloaders. My point is that the industry's actions are losing them so many more sales - DRM, regional restrictions, silly prices and suing potential customers have lost them so much more than they realise.

  101. Richard Kay

    Ancient right to copy

    People used to excercise this right using pen on parchment. They didn't have to ask authors who were far away or maybe dead and untraceable for permission because permission wasn't needed and was implicit because the right to copy existed universally.

    As recently as a couple of hundred years ago, this right was taken away for a short period (20 years) in respect of some of the more technical copying which a then tiny group of people (those who owned printing presses) could do. At that time the right manually to copy using pen on paper for non-commercial purposes wasn't taken away.

    Everyone now has the ability to create perfect copies almost effortlessly. But some want to take away our ancient right to use this ability and some want to defend continuation of this perceived right.

    It isn't those who are concerned with maintaining the ancient rights of everyone to copy, as opposed those who would have these rights restricted to a privileged group, who are introducing increasingly inflammatory ad-hominem insults towards their opponents in this debate. Firstly we were accused of being "pirates" and then "thieves" and now "retards". When one side is losing the moral argument, it is the losers who resort to insults first - because the weakest argument cannot be defended by other means.

    Politicians will clearly take the side of mass media because they can't be elected without mass media support. But the public have not so far been persuaded enough to cease copying, though a few may have been persuaded enough to feel slightly guilty without being persuaded enough to stop copying in practice. So how can the public be persuaded by copy preventers that extending the initially minor legal restrictions imposed a mere couple of hundred years ago upon a small, select and privileged group, by using police-state type controls on everyone i.e. through mass surveillance upon private communications and individual private activites, can be in any sense moral? The way to achieve acceptance of totalitarian controls is of course through propaganda. The mass media are not about to present more than one side of this debate any sooner than turkeys will vote for Christmas. And by using the approach of demagogues who would rather insult their enemies and control the press than have the inherent weakness of their arguments exposed through rational debate.

  102. JimC

    @ Paul Talbot

    > Yes, it makes money for Microsoft. The original coders probably sold

    > their rights to the code to Microsoft as part of their original contract,

    And Microsoft use the money to pay more coders I do believe... What comes around goes around.

    But yes, there is a case for "artist as employee" with the rights staying with the employer. Its one I have a degree of sympathy with, because I think it could result in many more musicians getting a living rather than a tiny minority blowing huge incomes up their noses and the vast majority starving. But I'm suprised to see someone with your other other beliefs making a case to make the major labels far more powerful than they currently are.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Ancient right to ... feudalism?

    Strange how it's always someone else's fault. Look -

    "This is the problem - sales are indeed generated by free content. What's up for debate is how much this is, and whether or not it's more than the sales "lost" from freeloaders. My point is that the industry's actions are losing them so many more sales - DRM, regional restrictions, silly prices and suing potential customers have lost them so much more than they realise."

    Gee. Does anyone pay for music anymore? Maybe the people who don't know how to use Pirate Bay. Then there's us, who insist on paying for stuff we value, because we know it helps the artist sustain a living, so they can keep doing more of the same.

    And it's US who subsidize leeches like YOU, bud.

    @ Richard Kay: "Ancient right to copy"

    Uh, yeah.

    Like the ancient right to beat all four of your wives.

    You can exercise your ancient "right to copy" until the only artists left are sweeping floors and cleaning toilets, making the occasional recording that you can then copy for nothing. That sure gives them a real incentive to ... polish those toilets harder.

    Freetards really don't get it. Are they all spoilt rich kids?

  104. Midas

    Freetards & Tightwads (or just plain retards with big wads...)


    "Hey, you can't sell that word! I own it, it's mine.

    So is that sound. Stop!"

    Notwithstanding the right of creators to benefit from their creations as a way to enhance the production of more culture, the true retards are the ones willing to support the legal fiction that someone can freely annexate what belongs to all and then charge the rest for it.

    The nerd is here... but mandatory schooling will suffice, thank you.


  105. Dave Brown

    We should pay for what we like.

    I don't think Billy Bragg was wholeheartedly throwing his weight behind you must pay for every download. He spent a significant part of this interview pointing out that his own taping of records led to his obsession with music. His points were (amongst others):

    1. We want it free (so those who provide us access get to reap the advertising benefit without having to pass on the profits).

    2. We want our cake and to eat it (we want music to continue to be produced without having to pay for that further development).

    3. We seem incapable of grasping that just because we're taking a copy of the media (and leaving the original media there) nothing is lost (except the sales and a musician's / band's income!).

    So, if we like a band we've downloaded we should pay for it. View a free download less like theft more like a test drive. And, if you don't pay for something you really like, then you will, at least partially, be to blame if nothing else is forthcoming from that artist.

  106. Shakje

    3 points

    There is a lot of crap in these comments from both sides of the arguments, and some terrible analogies. There is an analogy that suits this, but it isn't a very big leap of the imagination. The analogy is going round to a friend's, hearing a CD they've just bought and saying "oh that's pretty good", so you tape the CD, or you tape the tracks you want, or you burn the tracks you want to another CD. You haven't bought them, you wouldn't have bought them in a shop. Sometime in the future you're in a shop and you see the CD for sale in a sale and you decide you want a real product and you know it's good because you have a copy at home. So you buy it. Gained sale. Sure, some of the people who do this just get the CD off their mates every time, but in general they don't get on very well with their mates, but there's no real way of telling them this. Of course, if you've ever taped a CD or burnt a copy of a friend's CD or ripped a friend's CD then that means you've stolen the music, and in fact you're liable for a full-price lost sale of that album for copying that track. This makes you a freetard. You're also a freetard if you've lent a CD to someone knowing that they'll copy some of it.

    Second point, file sharing doesn't damage the music business as a whole. There is no real correlation between increased file sharing and decreased profits. Anyone who thinks it is doing serious damage to the industry as a whole is an idiot, that applies to people who think they are being noble by downloading free music as much as pro label idiots. Yes, the RIAA is totally corrupt, but you can't justify your downloading by saying it's to damage the industry. How many less artists do we have as a result of file sharing?

    Personally I don't think that downloading is particularly morally reprehensible. Yes it's illegal, but it's the same mindset as copying CDs to tape or another CD, it doesn't really hurt anyone. Really, honestly it doesn't, if it did you'd see people going out of business right left and centre.

    Artists, you have to graft. Saying you don't want to starve pisses me off as much as people saying "how can I buy free-range chicken, I can't afford it and I need to buy two every week". Fuck off. If you can't hack it give up, but don't whinge about it afterwards. If you can't afford chicken every week, then you shouldn't eat it every week. I've spent weeks where all I ate was pasta with a bit of butter and garlic to flavour it because I was skint, so people complaining about having to give up a few luxuries like nice food to follow what should be their dream (and not just an easy way to earn money) isn't going to endear me to them. Artists have never been as widespread as they are now, and quite frankly, that's what's probably really taking the money away from individual artists. Becoming a music star was something that people aspired to with lots of failures along the way, nowadays if you can sing halfway decent you think you're owed 50 grand a year for a few months work. What's not idiotic about that? If you've got real talent, like writing songs, or performing live, or being a fantastic lead guitarist, then yes, you deserve more, but you'll get more by putting the work in like any other job.

    Now, stop being so stupid. Stop referring to people as freetards, you sound more like twats than the people who still say M$. Stop making epicly shit analogies, both of you, you just make people who can walk over them feel clever, without forcing them to come up with a better argument. Stop defending big, stupid, corporations. They've made their own mistakes and deserve to suffer for them, not be defended when it's quite clear they've really messed up. Stop defending artists that don't actually care about music, see above. Stop trying to defend your actions. File sharing is illegal, full stop. If you do it you break the law. I've accepted that when I do it I risk court action. Should it be illegal, no, I don't think so, but capitalist governments are never going to let corporations sink under if they can help it.

  107. Dave Brown


    Not entirely sure which side of this argument you lie (although your eloquent rant has firmly put both sides in their place) but surely by widely available you mean a combination of xfactor and youtube? Without industry support it is next to impossible to get discovered amongst the deluge of detritous out there. And in the meantime, music is going the same way as politics, erm which clone do I buy? And then you get Simon Cowell and clan remonstrating about how music isn't as good as it used to be...

  108. JC

    Bragg, you have no common sense.

    Until a songwriter has a gun pointed at their head and are forced to do it to survive, they have the same situation as any other human on earth - to choose to do the work for what pay they can get, or to choose to do something else if they aren't willing to accept that pay for that work.

    If you don't like it, find another planet because on this one everyone else seems to understand the basic factors involved.

  109. Midas
    Paris Hilton

    On Illegality...


    For the sake of dimwit freeloaders, please elaborate somewhat further about which aspect of the so called social contract -- or fundamental law, for that matter -- it issues forth that filesharing is more illegal than, let's say, word sharing (as in free communication) or fluid sharing (by consenting adults, that is).

    Paris, because she can afford (to go to jail...)

  110. Demian Phillips

    You wouldn't steal a car...

    I thought illegal copying was like killing a cop, shitting in his helmet, sending it to his wife, and then stealing the helmet again. Did TV lie to me again?

  111. Shakje


    Seems this has turned a bit dead over the initial flurry of "AO article with comments! Must post!"

    It's illegal because our laws protect copyrighted media. As I said at the end of my post, I don't necessarily think it should be illegal, but there we go. Currently, it is.

    @Dave Brown

    As a kid I taped the radio, as I grew up, CD burners were slowly becoming more popular, and I was in uni when file sharing really took off properly. Because of this I'll always have a soft spot for file sharers, and I do partake occasionally. Altogether I just think it's a bloody stupid situation we're all in.

    The record companies should never have been allowed to put prices to the levels they are at now, and should have used P2P to their advantage as a promotion tool, instead they've done just about everything possible to make themselves look like cunts.

    Filesharers typically make idiots of themselves. I usually have a good reason for downloading files if I do it illegally. Either I can't find the track legitimately, or I already own it on CD somewhere, or someone has suggested it to me and I want to hear it to see if I like that music (first reason usually applies here too). A lot of filesharers probably have decent reasons for downloading files, and it's important that we find out what they are, so that the market can change to accomodate them, but usually they'll just spout out some rubbish about "giving it to the man" and it just makes them look stupid.

    Artists annoy me the most, generally, they now seem to think that they deserve loads of money no matter what their talent. If you're not making money it's not down to file sharers, it's because people don't want to buy your music.

    Realistically, if an act is good enough, and they put enough effort in, they WILL get noticed. It should be a slow process because it helps develop the bands. Look at the Arctics. While not everyone's cup of tea there's a bunch of lads who got themselves noticed by fans, not by the industry. It's possible, it might require a bit of innovation and some people might not be found, but that's life. The tramp down the road from me might be the next Da Vinci, but no-one will ever know. When I was a kid I got told that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. With the exception of making someone's head explode by concentrating on it, this has generally held to be true.

    In the end it doesn't matter, the more crap that's pumped out, the less money the industry will end up making as consumers get tired of it all (as is already happening), and eventually it'll fall apart. This may, however, take some time.

  112. Midas
    Jobs Horns

    Freetards & Tightwads (or just plain retards with big wads...)

    There are plenty of laws defending essential human rights or the environments that don't get half the enforcement that copyright does.

    Being from continental Europe, I abide to norms with a different and broader scope, not focused solely on the protection of commercial aspects of cultural goods, but granting creator's so called "moral rights" over their works, which encompass the idea that a creator has the perpetual and unsalable right to recognition for his work and that this work can't be altered without his consent and still be attributed to him -- the essential difference between 'droit d'auteur' and copyright.

    But I reckon there are good laws and bad laws: I fail to see how a law born in the 17th century to protect the printer's trade and amended in the 19th century to accommodate the newly devised figure of the 'author', while remaining essentially a book trade regulation, really services 21st century creators. As someone else pointed earlier it remains instated because politics are in bed with media corporations, not because the best interest of the public is being cared for.

    Jobs, 'cause he knows how to spin it and the media loves him for it...

  113. Mark

    "Stealing music"

    If you tell me a joke and I tell it to someone else, have I stolen your joke?

    After all, if you start telling someone and iI blurt out the punchline, I've stolen your thunder, haven't I?

    Intellectual property cannot, repeat CANNOT be stolen unless it is a secret. The value of copyright comes from sharing it. If you never tell anyone your story, never sing your song, never act the play out, it is worthless.

    So the next time someone accuses you of stealing music, ask them not to tell anyone else's jokes because that's stealing too.

  114. Paul

    You work hard, you get paid

    One of the big problems with this world is people getting paid for doing nothing. It happens across the spectrum of society, from dole cheats to stockholders. People earn money for sitting on their arse. It's always wrong.

    Musicians have always been something of a special case. They spend their time doing something they enjoy, and historically they've at least had an opportunity to earn well as a result - how many people can do a few days' work and get paid for it for 50 years?

    I agree that musicians should have the opportunity to earn money for their work - but they do - they can just set up a website, charge folks a subscription and let them download away. Release one new song every month and people will keep paying. Except that's not what musicians want is it? They want to produce something and then have the 'right' to sit on their arses for the rest of their lives earning money from it. Well I'm sorry my chums, that particular gravy train is well and truly over. You need to work hard, make money, and save for a pension. Just like the rest of us. Tough world eh?

  115. James Butler
    Thumb Down

    2 - 1/2 Things

    1) It's awfully amusing how many freetards include both "music industry is producing crap" and "I can download anything I want" in their rants ... so I guess you enjoy downloading crap?

    2) Freetards are almost exclusively kids, because their friends and they "grew up" around others who also felt no moral compunction about the theft they so enjoy. Ask those of us who "grew up" before digital music, and you get a different impression about the acceptability of stealing an artist's work.

    1/2) Artists of quality do not "work for a couple of days and get paid for a year", however much you'd like that to be the case. They have spent their entire lives developing their skills and channeling their creativity, only to have their work product, as valid as those hamburgers you freetards spend your days flipping, stolen out from under them.

    Billy Bragg does not earn a lot of money ... perhaps he earns more than musicians you haven't yet and may never hear from, but he's hardly rolling in lucre. Every download not purchased impacts directly on his bottom line, and even more so on those artists who are trying to make enough to support themselves.

    All you freetards deserve the future you are rooting for ...

  116. Shakje
    Paris Hilton

    @James Butler

    1) Its awfully amusing that you're thick. I think tripe tastes like crap, tripe is food, you eat other food, therefore everything you eat tastes like crap. Oh wait, that doesn't quite work does it?

    2) This is horribly condescending and just wrong. It's akin to your granny saying "things were so much better in my day when nobody swore". So no-one you know has ever taped the radio? Or taped a record? Or copied a tape? How about lending a video?

    3) Correct, the music industry should really pay them for all that effort.

    Would you be happy with his house in Dorset and his income?

    Paris, because even she can see through your faux logic.

  117. James Butler


    @1) Hunh? Nice retort! LOL!

    @2) Are you familiar with the technology you mention? Probably not ... it's called "analog" technology, and perfectly accurate copies are not possible using it. In addition, spreading hundreds or thousands or copies around used to be quite expensive, what with the cost of the tape and the postage and all.

    @3) Do you mean the music industry that's failing to stop your theft of their distributed product? How would you propose they pay the musicians, then?

    Your arguments ignore the huge difference in the scope of the theft that used to fall under the "personal use" copyright guideline, and which, today, falls under the "unlawful distribution" section of that same set of laws.

    It's not a matter of a single fan making a "mix tape" so they could play the music from that 12" vinyl disc in their car. It's a matter of some punk attempting to gain street cred by uploading a disc's worth of perfect digital copies onto the Internet, or downloading same, while puffing out their little chest and proclaiming "I can, so I do" and "Why should I pay? If the record companies put out better music, I would buy a disc, but since they don't, I'll just steal what I want."

    Your arguments are specious, like every other freetard argument. Pretty selfish.

  118. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a Happy World in Shakje's head


    You're very free and easy with your insults here. Almost everyone who disagrees with you is called an "idiot" or irrational. Then you go and write -- "file sharing doesn't damage the music business as a whole. There is no real correlation between increased file sharing and decreased profits"

    That's utterly delusional. Do you know many broadband users? I don't know any music fan with a decent connection who pays for CDs anymore, unless they're so obscure they can't find them on TPB. I stopped when I joined Oink (RIP). The money I save goes on live gigs and beer, but mostly beer.

    Yes, it's wrong, and I'd pay for a good legal alternatives, like Oink. But unlike you, I'm not pretending I'm making life any better for artists by not buying CDs anymore. It's there, I use it.

    So if you could be more honest with your arguments, you would be a lot more believable.

    "Artists, you have to graft."

    You seem full of advice for people about what's good for them. Artists have always had to graft. Only now under the Rule of Shakje they have to graft AND beg for charity, because you don't think they should support economically themselves from their creative work.

    Why not be honest with yourself and us here?

    (anon, for obvious reason)

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