Pirates Kill Music Dead

‘Drastic action needs to be taken in order to save the Spanish music industry.” A grave warning by a stern faced Rob Wells (Universal Music Group).

The recording industry is adamant; if we don’t stop take action now a country like Spain will turn into a cultural desert!

Spain. A cultural desert.

Can you imagine this? La Sagrada Familia desecrated, the Al-Hambra stripped, gutted and sold off to the highest bidder, copies of Don Quijote burning in the background. That’s the kind of picture I paint when I hear a term like ‘cultural desert.’

Apparently the people who bestowed mankind with global menaces like Lady Gaga and Jay-Z weren’t in it for the money after all. These Cultural Samaritans are showing genuine concern for the preservation of local cultures. Right. What’s next? McDonalds championing healthy, local cuisine? Al-Qaeda rescuing scared kittens from trees?

Who are they kidding? They get predictably sillier when talk about their solution for the scourge of music-piracy: kick kids caught sharing mp3’s off the internet. “We want this to be futureproof. If there is a risk of kids losing their internet connection, they will stop!”, mr Kennedy of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry explains.

Yes, you read it right. They are dead serious about this. At least they pretends to be. These people want to cut off from the rest of the world. Global censorship and a type of excommunication that would make the average dictator glee with pride!

Their reasoning is neither genuine nor future proof. Here’s some reasons why:

  • Theft adds value. Stealing music doesn’t take anything away. Instead it creates new audiences, new sub-cultures and new music styles. Modern music grew up on a healthy diet of sampling (basically stealing bits of pieces of existing music). Without sampling there would have been no hip-hop (worth billions I might add)
  • New technologies create new markets. Global digital revenues increase 19% in 2009. iTunes alone was responsible for more than 25% of all music sales in the US last year and they are still growing.
  • >Free is worth a lot of money.Giving stuff away is a great way to promote yourselves. Radio Head proved this already over two years ago by giving their music away for (almost) free. Somebody must have forgotten to send Wells that memo.
  • Pirates are their best customers. The same people who download music (or movies) for free are also the biggest spenders on music, concert tickets et cetera.
  • The law will always be outdated. Wielding a 19th century sword to face a 21th century dragon is not a good idea. The law will simply not stop people from sharing music. Ever. Napster should have taught us this lesson almost ten years ago.

Let’s get on thing straight: the music industry is in it not for the sex, the drugs or even the rock ‘n roll. They are in it for one thing and one thing only: the money. And that’s a good thing. I love the free market. I like it when people freely trade ideas and get paid for it. The global music industry is making loads of money and could be making lots more if they only let go the outdated notion that the law should be used as a weapon against their own customers.

Instead they should come up with new ways in which the free distribution of music support their business model. Music piracy might just be the best thing that ever happened to the music industry. If they play this right they’ll have a marketing machine and a distribution channel at their disposal that’s effective beyond their wildest dreams.

If they don’t, I’m sure some 16 year old kid in Vietnam or Russia will do it for them.

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