(Music) Pirate Chimps??

This story on copy protection and music piracy aired on NPR’s “Morning Edition” this morning.

There was an experiment done with chimpanzees a few years ago. When a small group of chimps was given a small quantity of bananas on a daily basis they shared them among themselves, equally and happily. When that same group was given a surplus of bananas, the dominant chimps stole, hoarded and defended the entire supply, resorting to violence if necessary.

It just struck me this morning, maybe especially, amid the horrifying stories in the news right now how ridiculous this idea of music piracy is. The idea that ultra-rich media companies and even ultra-rich “rockstars” can’t bear to have their own fans (people who genuinely derive pleasure from listening to their music) make copies of their CDs, for fear of lost revenue.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a music pirate. Yes, some people share files on a huge scale, but think about it, who’s being harmed there? It only really impacts artists & companies who spends so much on the mass-marketing of their product that every last dollar must be squeezed from every available sucker –er, I mean consumer.

Believe me, if 50FootWave’s songs were file-shared extensively, it would be a minor miracle, yes, but also a real shot in the arm for our visibility. In other words, file sharing could only “hurt” us, if we were enormously successful. Insert logical disconnect here. If we spent stupid money making and marketing our CDs then we’d need stupid money in return. I get that. But when does it ever help to restrict the marketplace or private consumer behavior?

On a smaller scale, artists like us stand to suffer greater harm from lost CD revenue, because every CD sale impacts our bottom line directly. And yet it will never make sense to be ‘grabby’ and forget the big picture. It’s music. We’re all so used to people getting rich from it, we forget that makes so little sense. Music was a nice business, it should never have become an industry.

I’m on one side of this, I know — but it’s relevant — after many years as a signed artist, with large advances at my disposal, way more people heard of my band without ever hearing the actual music. That band is dead now. My new band is finding it harder and harder to find the small audience we require to sustain ourselves. I find it hard to care about file-sharing when all I ever really wanted was for people to hear, not buy my music.

I always had faith that if the music found it’s own good people, the money would follow. After all, who in their right mind would become a musician if money was their primary concern??

It remains way more important to me that my music be heard than bought.

There is no such thing as a music pirate in my world.

File sharing is constructive, not destructive.

Share the she-it out of my stuff. Let me worry about the “damage” it causes.


p.s. I know, this is all so “duh” — we’ve been over it and over it. I’m just venting. What’s a blog for after all?

Posted in: words on September 19, 2005