Think Tank
2004-02-22 11:24:44 ET

Got a copy of Blur's album Think Tank without the stupid Copy Control program that EMI likes to slap on all their artists discs.
I'm very happy now, cause I've been waiting to hear this album since last year.

iPod's are great and all, but this whole MP3 war is a pain in the ass.

2004-02-22 11:27:53 ET

I saw a picture of the iPod the other day. They are so small and cute.

I'm a little out of it, what MP3 war are you refering to?

2004-02-22 19:39:25 ET

Well, recording companies and many artists feel that they're losing money by people downloading music they haven't paid for. And they're right. Every time you download a few songs off of a new album, the artist loses money they would have made off the sale of that album.

Now the argument is that when you spend $15-$20 on an album, the artist (like U2, or NIN or Barenaked Ladies or whoever) only gets approx $1 as their cut. Doesn't seem fair, does it? But then consider the fact that if your album has mediocre sales (like 100,000 units worldwide) in a year, well then the artist just made $100,000.

Still seems unfair?

Well, consider everybody else who brought that music to you. Sound engineers, producers (good ones like Steve Lillywhite, Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Flood), graphic designers and photographers who brought visual elements to the album art. All those people have to get paid too. And they get maybe $0.25 from each album.

So to combat the rampant downloading of MP3s, some companies, like EMI (who own Virgin and Parlophone) employ the use of Copy Control technology, making it nearly impossible to copy the AIFF files (each song is an AIFF file) to a hard drive. Generally they'll make the CD work like a CD-ROM. The regular CD part is still playable in any CD player, but when you put the disc into a computer it runs a seperate program that has an encrypted version of the songs that are only playable throught the discs own media.

As a result, people (like me) who buy all their CDs and then upload them to their computers, get fucked over. I don't own a discman. I have my iPod and that's it. So groups like Blur, Massive Attack and A Perfect Circle alienate me when they have their discs Copy Controlled. I won't buy them cause I won't be able to listen to them.

This is the war of MP3 technology that bothers me. Why should people who lawfully buy their CDs not be allowed to listen to them by whatever format they choose? I chose MP3s because I can carry about 2000 songs in my iPod which fits in my pocket. I never download music unless the artist themselves is offering it from their own website. So why am I being penalized?

2004-02-22 21:26:29 ET

I say fuck the companies. If you can get away with grabbing a few MP3 here and there, then go nuts ;)

2004-02-23 01:55:08 ET

But as an artist myself, I can see the viewpoint of the musicians who's livelihood we're taking away.

It's like if I published a book of my photography and one person goes out, buys it, then photocopies the whole thing 100 times over and gives away the copies to his friends. I lose out big time. And as an artist, that's my food and rent you're taking away. Same goes for musicians. It's just a sad fact that so much of the cost of a CD goes into the pockets of record execs and so few of it goes into the hands of the talent that brought it to you.

A CD costs $5 to actually press, so the mark up should be another $5, of which $1 goes to the band/musicians, and the rest gets divvied up between production, distribution (including marketing) and the vendor. I'd rather buy my CDs directly from the artist. I bought a Filter album from Richard Patrick's own hads and I was more than happy to fork over the $15 to him personally cause he got to pocket 100% of it right there.

But downloading the music, in the end, hurts the artist more than it hurts the record company, and as an artist I can sympathize with them. That's why I still buy my music.

2004-02-23 04:01:43 ET

I neglected to mention in my earlier comment that of the $100,000 made from selling 100,000 copies of an album, a large chunk goes back to taxes (like 22% or something here in Canada) and then a big chunk of the rest of it goes back into the tour to support the album.

Case in point, when U2 was setting off to do the ZOOTV tour, they had big friggin' ideas. Bono and Edge kept getting reigned in by Larry's persistent "How much is it going to cost?". It was coming out of their own pockets.

The bigger the show and the bigger the tour, the better your album sales have to be so that you can finance that show and that tour. Record companies don't foot too much of the bill. Mostly accommodations. If you want monitors and lights, it's going to come out of your pocket or you go to corporate sponsors. Then they take a cut of ticket sales. Along with the promoters (ClearChannel and House of Blues mainly) and Tickemaster, these people reap the profits. The band/artist see maybe 5% to 10% of the ticket profits back.

And then that money goes back to buying studio time so they can record the next album.

This is why I don't download MP3s. As much as I hate the corporations for their unit pushing and deciding what we should pay and listen to, I don't like the idea of stealing an artists hard work (blood, sweat and tears, all of it) just to get back at the companies.

Now, if we didn't have any corporations to deal with...

2004-02-23 07:17:22 ET

You have a point, but on the other hand, due to the fact that I can download music, I've tried a far wider variety of music, and in many cases bought the full CD of an artist because of a few songs I liked and wanted to hear more. Its great advertising.

2004-02-23 08:51:04 ET

Well, yeah. If you want to hear more than what the radio plays, then downloading a few songs from genres you ordinarily don't listen to just for a sample makes sense. You waste less cash and more deserving artists gain recognition.

But it is being abused. And the counterargument would be that you could always use Live 365 to listen to other genres that play more than what standard radio plays.

2004-02-23 09:05:02 ET

Whats this Live 365?

If its a net radio station, I don that as well. (play lists get boring)

2004-02-23 09:05:48 ET

I don't want artists to go starving. They worked hard for their talents and deserve to be paid for.

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