You remember the Bill & Ted movies, right? Well Alex Winter, the guy who played Bill in the movies, has directed a documentary about Napster and the “revolution” it created called ‘Downloaded’. You can stream it legally for free via AOL as well as other home devices like Roku, Xbox and Samsung Smart-TV’s. I have been wanting to see this since I first heard about it and I plan to dive into this over the weekend when I can devote the hour and forty-five minutes necessary without interruption. I really hope it explores how Napster and services of the like have ruined the recording industry as a whole. Of course, there are pros and cons from both sides of the spectrum, and perhaps services like Napster did help some artists gain more exposure and in turn helped them sell more merch and brought them increased attendance at shows. But that was before Facebook and Twitter. Plus, with things like YouTube and Spotify, there really isn’t a big need to pirate music anymore just to “check out the band” – and bands now get paid per stream so it’s a win/win, even though it’s something like 0.0015 cents per play.
I do think the piracy world has taken a bit of hit, though. Since Napster’s inception and all the litigation that has surrounded it and services like it, there has been more awareness of the negative aspects associated with pirating music. It used to be that there was this “screw the record labels” (meaning major labels) attitude amongst heavy pirates, but these days there is a large amount of artists and bands who are independent with their own labels. Since there is no major label to “screw over” (let’s face it, only three are left) there is more of a desire to support the artist, in general. However, some could argue that music has become somewhat devalued as well. So many songs by so many bands are given away for free these days that it’s almost as if the artists have inadvertently altered the subconscious of the average music fan. Now, many consumers of music are expecting it for free instead of seeing any monetary value in the music. I don’t care who you are or who you know, getting a quality recording produced is never free.
In my opinion, the time has come for bands to take a stand against the “freeloaders’ and re-enforce the fact that their music has value to it. If a band decides to give a song or album away for free, what sort of message are they sending to the consumer? We all know it’s because the band just wants to be heard and gain exposure, but on the surface one could think that the band doesn’t think their music is valuable enough to charge money for it. Granted, some bands are hobbyists and just want people to hear their music and could care less about making any money from it….and I get that. However, there is a higher ratio of bands that consider this to be their career and they should be able to sell their music without people bitching that they can’t get it for free. Music doesn’t always have to be in exchange for money, though. Many artist and labels give away free songs or compilations in exchange for an email address, which works. They’re still getting something in exchange for the music….it’s not entirely free. Plus, email is the best proven marketing method in terms of getting results. Sending an email to list of say 5,000 fans is way more effective than just posting a link on Facebook or Twitter. Especially on Facebook, where you’re lucky if 10% of your fans see a specific post. So, if you’re gonna give music away, at least get that email address.
Ok…I’m done. Click on the image below to start watching.