Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Copyright - Copywrong

Copyright  - Copywrong. Would you work 20 days for 3 days pay?

It's been well over a year since I last blogged but I thought I take a break from mixing and hammer my thoughts down. And yes it's that old chestnut "Illegal Downloads", a topic well discussed online, but when I read most of the articles I note the comments are generally posted from two opposing camps with some of them written from pure ignorance. So I thought I'd have my say.

When I wrote my first album I was in full time employment and Focal Point was a bit of fun. As I started to consider writing my second album I lost my real world contract and money was tight. I decided to take the gift of time I'd been given and build my studio and record my second album, p'dice, using money I borrowed from my family and also money that I raised by selling pre-orders to fans that showed faith that I could deliver.

When you lose your job and find there's no work out there, your confidence takes a beating. But the faith shown by family and fans in my music helped me through the dark days.

With time to focus on my music, and dare I say my "music business",  I scoured the interweb looking at business models or ways and means to encourage sales. In all this reading I saw a common statistic that 85% of all music is illegally downloaded. Yes 85%.

So for every 20 songs downloaded only 3 are paid for. OK to put it another way...

Imagine personally working for 20 days and getting paid for 3. How would you feel?

Now my issue with illegal downloaders is that they try to justify their action using the following (and I paraphrase) statements, and I want to address their arguments from my personal point of view.

1: The big record companies had it coming, they were ripping us of, its a level playing field now.

I don't give a monkeys about the plight of the big record companies. Illegal downloads of my songs are theft from me. I didn't rip you off, so why rip me off?

2: I use illegal downloads so I can hear the full tracks and decide whether to buy the music.

All my music can be previewed in full on my website and the various online streaming services.

3: Buying music is just too expensive.

Making music is also very expensive. Equipment, musician hire, manufacturing costs etc and also keeping food on the table while I'm writing and recording for months on end.

Most people who can afford a PC and broadband can afford to buy music. I am well aware that some people may be a bit strapped for cash and occasionally I give my music away for free. All I ask is for a small donation of what you think it is worth and many people do. I receive donations ranging from a few cents/pence up to significantly more than it costs to buy the CD. But every penny counts and it shows appreciation.

You have to remember that giving away my music for free is not actually free to me. I have to cover the costs of the services/bandwidth used via the host website.

4: I've bought more music because of illegal downloads because I've been introduced to more artists.

OK but if you have been introduced to me by way of an illegal download and you have kept a copy of my music on your player and you listen to it for pleasure, have you rewarded me? The use of an MP3 as a marketing tool can be great and I do it myself, but if my music adds any value to your life then you should add value to my life and and support my work.

5: I get illegal downloads and share them with my friends which helps promote the artist

You could send your friends links to my website or my streaming music player. That would be better promotion.


The list of these type of arguments goes on and on but;

a: I like MP3s and think they are a great marketing tool but it should be down to me to give my MP3s away not some peer to peer site making big bucks from 3rd party advertisers.

b: if my music adds any value whatever to your life then support me directly so I can make more. It really is what I would love to do for you.

c: if my music adds no value to your life, then delete it from your life, and take yourself of my mailing list / fanbase. We are of no benefit to each other.

Anyway I've had my say and I feel better for it. Back to mixing my music.


  1. I'm not sure if you're making the right move here Paul.

    People who download your music don't have to be the people who would've otherwise bought your music. If they didn't pay you would you rather have people not listen to your music at all? That would be a serious blow to spreading awareness about your music.

    Instead of fighting the pirates you can embrace them. Many e-book authors these days thank their clients for their purchase AND they thank those who illegally downloaded their books for at least expressing interest in their product. And should they really like what the author is doing then they give them the opportunity to still buy the product (often with a couponcode at reduced price)

    You can do the same. You can release torrents with your music with a little friendly note alongside it. You'll spread awareness, you ensure that at least your music is listened to in the best quality possible and you'll still generate good will and even guilt among your pirate fans so that they'll still support you, not because they have to, but because they want to.

  2. How do you attach notes to torrents... It would be something I wish I could do... as I've said I have given away my music for free on many occasions but these pirate sites suck. It takes control away from the artist and to add insult to injury some of these site make money by selling other peoples music and none is passed back to artist... that cant be right...

  3. The whole problem with this thing is expressed via my username- we are all anonymous, so in general we (the music purchasers/downloaders) don't give a fuck about you (the music makers), and you don't give a fuck about us. Which is why I consider illegal downloading acceptable under a few conditions. 1: the artist you like has already 'made it'- they're rolling in the money and your few pence will make zero difference to them. 'Small' artists rely on every £ of income to keep going. 2: they are on a big label- 99% of music labels are run by one or two folks out of a home/office studio, and your money is needed for them to have an income. A big label is one that is making enough money out of a band already.

    So in circumstances other than those, I consider illegal downloading rather abhorrent. It is very direct and personal and does have a large impact on small artists and labels.

    Which brings me back to where I started- to your fans, you are not anonymous- you interact with them everyday, and we are not anonymous to you. So frankly, any supposed 'fan' who illegally downloads your work is a massive cunt.

  4. An album torrent consist of a folder. It's common to have a notepad file included in the folder where the torrent uploader says a few words thanks others and promotes whatever he wants.

    Torrent sites also let you write a description for the torrent file which people will read before they download the file.

    Pirates are at least curious to your music, they're very likely to become fans and that's where they're potential customers. Getting angry with them (and I know it's frustrating, it's understandable) will most likely antagonise them and start naming the bullshit arguments you responded to. If you're grateful for their piracy however, they have nothing to defend against and will feel bad about it.

    So in your notepad you thank them, and then give them two ways of supporting you should they wish to do so.

    Firstly you ask to keep on spreading and creating a buzz around your work perhaps even give them that affilliate link thing you just picked up. Get their friends to know your music as well, on forums on everything with links to your side.

    And secondly (you don't want to seem greedy) you offer them a way to buy your album and I'm confident a coupon code with a discount will work a charm here.

    Again, it's understandable to be frustrated with piracy. And it's easy to be seduced into counting illegal downloads as 100% lost sales. But you're not helped by that. Resisting it will only cost you while letting these pirate guys work for you can let you grow bigger. Especially for artists that aren't backed by label advertising this is an opportunity.

    I'm working on a book right now, so I already can imagine the dismay of discovering my product available for free. But if I had such an excellent album to sell, then the above describes how I would deal with piracy.

  5. Here's a text that a mate and some other guy wrote for their self-help book

    "If you’ve purchased this book legitimately from one our websites then I’m
    honoured you’ve chosen to invest you hard earned money with us, and I thank you sincerely.
    If you’ve downloaded this book illegally from one of the various torrent sharing websites, then I also
    want to thank you, but for a different reason.
    I wanted to say thank you for taking the step towards creating the kind of life that you’ve always
    desired and allowing us to come on that journey with you.

    We wrote this book on a belief that everyone has the right to create the kind
    of life that everyone deserves – one filled with love, freedom, and expression – and by downloading
    this book, you’re giving us another opportunity to create that world.
    All I ask of you in return for this book is that if you feel you’ve received value from this book, that
    you repay that by purchasing the book legally from This can be in electronic
    form or print form.
    This book is the product of 4 years research and the money you invest into it will allow us to continue
    our research into creating simpler and more effective products that will help you accelerate the
    journey you’re on.
    If arriving at your destination sooner rather than later sounds like something you would like to
    achieve, then please take the time to help invest in the solution you’re looking for."

  6. Paul,

    A solution for this problem might be:

    Posted your own version of the album as a torrent, even before you send out review copies of the it. On each and every song add, at one point in the songs somewhere, a voice over with you saying something like "This is a demo copy of my new album. If you like what you hear the album will be available on ...". With such a measure, as soon as the torrent raiders find out that ayour new album has been made available, a lot of people will download it, and that, it turn, will make the torrent rank higher in the torrent lists, which will encourage more people to download it, as these things always tend to go. By the time the first downloaders realize that the album is unlistenable partly through every song, the album will have been downloaded hundreds and hundreds of time, so the ranking will be high, outscoring any other illegal download there may be out there.

    Another way to deal with it, is a variation of what Lenart said, except make it an extra track. The same process as the first one is made. First you make the torrent yourself, lets say with a bit rate of 128. Except this torrent has a bonus track. On that track you leave a message to the downloader, something like "while I am very happy that you are interested in my music enough to download this torrent, I would very much prefer for you to buy it directly from me, and the reasons are .... Thanks for listening"

    Of course, those two methods are not the only ones you can use, but they are the most cost effective for an emerging artist like yourself. If you had more than limited funds, other methods are: to have a 5.1 mix included on a second disk, which if I am not mistaken, cannot be "torrented" without loosing its 5.1 quality (it becomes ordinary stereo); or having any other extra that won't tranfer well (I can't think of anything out of hand right now), and which will be considered as added value for the people who do buy the CD legaly.

    Anyway, that's my two cents worth!

    I am looking forward to hearing the whole album, and not just snippets from your Soundcloud site (and they do sound good).

    BTW, I have an internet radio show, and would love to do an interview with you at your convenience. For more about the show, type in "The International Prog Rock Show" in Google and you'll find the blogspot page easily. I did play some of the songs from your first album (your album even made my Top Ten of 2009 list), and recently played some tracks from the Soundcloud site.

    Talk to you soon,
    Frank (from the IPRS)

  7. Sorry about the typos! The first line should read:

    Post your own version of the album as a torrent, even before you send out review copies of it.

  8. Frank, I just read your comments and coincidentally I released a promo of track 1 with a voice over saying something similar to what you suggested. Great minds think alike. I think it may be the way to go. And an interview would be great. email me at team(at) and we'll sort something. :o)

  9. Right on!! I Creative Commons all of my music and encourage others to share! The weird thing is that many of these people end up buying the CD anyway.