Arctic Monkeys Apparently Forget What Made The Band Successful In The First Place

from the losing-your-roots dept

When people talk about how file sharing and giving away music for free can help promote a small time band into the big time, a common example is the band The Arctic Monkeys. The band was a true internet wonder, using file sharing to help boost attention and making the band a huge success. That’s why it’s quite surprising to hear that the band and its backers are now doing everything possible to prevent file sharing for its latest album. Reader Sal points us to an article saying that they’re so afraid of songs being released early that music writers have to go to the band’s “headquarters” to hear a preview of the album, rather than sending out copies. The article, from the Times Online, is a bit strange. It basically reads like a press release for some company that tries to monitor and stop online file sharing — though, it’s not clear if the Arctic Monkeys are using that particular service (it’s implied, but the wording is written in a way that suggest they may not be). Either way, it may be a bit surprising that a band like the Arctic Monkeys would suddenly be against file sharing — but as some have pointed out, rather than encouraging new and innovative works, intellectual property protection often comes after some have had some successes, as a way of protecting that success, rather than working hard on new efforts.

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Comments on “Arctic Monkeys Apparently Forget What Made The Band Successful In The First Place”

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John (user link) says:

This sounds familiar...!

This story reminds me of the MetallicA story! MetallicA got known thanks to tape (yes, cassette) trading and were thrilled that people were copying and distributing their music left and right. This is the same MetallicA that later sued Napster and had vicious words for people who copied (and illegally downloaded their music). (MetallicA loves suing, they even sued Revlon who was going to sell a metallica lip gloss or something similar!)…I agree that wild file sharing has hurt music sales a bit, but now lots of downloaders are running scared and are now using encrypted file-sharing solutions such as GigaTribe ( ), which allow users to exchange large files with friends instead of with millions of people.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

College students go out and protest and vote as a democrat. They grow up, get a job, have kids and turn into Republicans.

Why is this surprising? Getting free content out there when you are up and coming (or just coming) is a good thing, but once a certain critical mass has been reached, of course you want to protect what you have created.

Yet Another anonymous coward says:

The difference is...

…now they have a record contract. Is it really the band or their record company doing this? The band was the ones who distributed their early works for free. I would guess that their record company is now in control of distribution.

The record company has been astounding in their control. Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles was playing the band since the British release, but the American release followed many months later. The same station is now playing cuts from their new album.

Isn’t it ironic that I bought the first album at Tower Records the day after release, at a good discount?

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Metallica

Yeah, they may claim they got big due to the live shows but in MY neighborhood we copied studio albums because there were no cassettes of live shows and lots of their fans were kids who didn’t have money at the time to buy albums. Those same kids grew up and bought tickets to their concert when they played our area and those tickets were far more expensive than the $8.99 I paid for the vinyl and I know they saw more return on the tickets as well.

I think they should be forced to take the “Metal” out of their name anyway because they surely don’t have it in their soul any longer.

moe says:

Not a fair comparison

IMO, there is a big difference between not wanting your songs to be traded on P2P, and not wanting your new album leaked weeks/months earlier than its scheduled release. Bands and production companies gear up for the promotion of the album. Syncing the release and the promotion activities is probably pretty important.

Cut ’em some slack.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Not a fair comparison

I, too, was thinking that it sounded like they only wanted to prevent the album from leaking EARLY, not that they were worried that it would go to P2P. And I see justification in that. While I know some would buy a 1/2 finished Salvador Dali painting, most of us would prefer one that he put the finishing touches on.

Paul says:

Re: Re: Not a fair comparison

Actually, no, that’s a load of garbage. Normally studio albums are finished months before their actualy release. Then the label starts the hype train… tour, interviews, single releases, video shoots… all to generate interest in the new album.

The finished product is the same product that finished recording months ago, but the labels want to “maximise” the exposure of the album to “maximise” profits.

The issue is this: that way of thinking was necessary in the physical world, due to scarcity of space, production costs, etc. It’s not necessary in the digital world, and that’s the reason for Mike’s comments, I think, The Arctics were the poster child for how that way of thinking is not necessary, but now they’re successful, the outdated label way of thinking has taken over.

Anonymous Coward says:

… as a way of protecting that success, rather than working hard on new efforts.

Another tenent of anti-copyright mantra. And another that’s false-to-fact.

How many bands, other than one-hit-wonders, don’t work on new music? Try to find new sounds? Don’t work on reinventing themselves? The most successful do it every day, and even the one-hits almost always TRY to do so. They just don’t have the skill or talent needed to break back in.

Or how about books? Yeah, King, Clancy, Weber, Rowling, Heinlein, they all wrote just one book, and then sat back and collected those royalty checks. Care to guess how many of the 15 authors currently on the NYT Fiction Bestseller list have written just one book? Zero.

Or take the top 25 albums selling on Amazon. Want to know how many artists have just one album? Zip.

The fact is that SUCCESSFUL artists and authors are prolific. They can’t NOT write or sing. It’s what they do.

Further, if you work by the hour then in all likelyhood you’re getting paid by the hour, have access to health insurance, a retirement plan or pension, have paid sick and vacation days and other benefits, and have a very good chance (not 100%, but still) of that job being there when you show up tomorrow. In other words, it’s low-risk, low-reward, and probably something that (literally) millions of people could do with little to no training.

An artist or author, OTOH, may spend years producing a work, and does so “on spec”, with no guarantee that anyone will ever like it enough to pay for it. They pay their own insurance, have no benefits, and, if they take off a week due to sickness they aren’t enjoying paid sick days. And even if one work does happen to be a “hit”, the next one very well might not be. And in either case, royalties from earlier works help fund future ones. In short, their work entails a high degree of upfront risk, with a correspondingly high “potential” reward that, in actuality, few ever receive.

Fundamentally, the two situations are not parallel. And it’s one reason why those “protections” exist.

Dewy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Those artists are successful for a number of reasons, one of which is the endless well they draw from.

Steven King write lots of books, screenplays, ect… and there is a library in every major city with his works available to be read for free. He has found other ways to capitalize on his fame and name, beyond his ability to write books. Meanwhile his fans still go buy his books oddly enough…

How about Aerosmith? Not only prolific, but tireless tourers and grand showmen. Yet where is their Library contributions? May I tell you where?

p2p is where. Not “stolen”, where the owner loses the right to use the property as they see fit, but in the public domain for consumption. No money is lost or made by a p2p exchange of files, sales may be made or lost that way… I know I won’t be buying Justin Timberlake’s new LP…

Its time artists like myself grew up and accepted the “Rock Star” is a fabricated dream… like Disneyland. Its not genuine… its imagery, its unsustainable and often destroys the star… much to the benefit of the real copyright holder… the MUSIC INDUSTRY. I’ll bet the Jim Morrison estate and the other “Doors” members saw an equal share of the revenues from the last recompilation of Door’s tunes… I jest of course.

If your going to lament poor treatment of artists… and how they are raped as a common occurrence, please direct your energy towards the industry that has monopolized recorded music and its revenues since its inception. And try to see p2p from its fan based origin… not from the position of someone deluded to think a download equates a lost sale.

Brad says:


Metallica is a funny story. They didn’t care when people copied their music, brought tape recorders to their concerts, even allowed a few lucky ones to plug directly into the sound board. They loved the publicity, and at the time they made next to nothing from their album sales, so it didn’t cost them anything.

Then they formed their own record label. Then they cared. Suddenly every tape recorder at their concerts represented (in their mind) hundreds of lost album sales. Every mp3 was someone not paying them $12. When 100,000 people aren’t paying you $12, rather than $0.12, you care a lot more.

It’s always been about the bottom line with Metallica. It made them popular, but in the end cost them money, so they fought back the only way they could: by suing their biggest fans.

LEE says:

Copying MP3's

Are you off your rocker!
People make it sound like their owed music, recording music is just about the most mind numbing thing you can do. Listening to it, playing it, thats fun.
True music is spur of the moment. If musicians could they would just turn up and play whatever the hell they feel like and go home, in fact quite a few do (Jazz par example).
I know because I’m a musician, I love jamming I hate recording, its like having a second job, time spent in the studio is time I could be outside, having fun, going to gigs and playing music in my own time. I record because I like to think someone out there might be listening and might appreciate it.

I want to release an album, the finished product but I can’t release however many albums if they’re not going to sell, and the alternative is to work a day job and make music, which is fine but you better believe that I’m not going to waste my time recording it if its just going to eat up what little spare time I have. I’d rather go out and jam with my mates instead of touching up tracks here and there, mastering, EQ’ing, doing it take after take etc.

Get it right, when a musician records a song it takes time, and they do it for the fans not for themselves.
The moment you commit your music to wax you aim to make money, perhaps so that you can give up your day job and make music full time, so that theres more of your music out there for people to enjoy and for you to enjoy with them.
If you want to share Mp3’s then fine, do it, but don’t think that you’re owed the music, like by taking the music for free you in some way contributed to a growing fan base which, in one or another creates magic money for the band.
See it for what it is, I’m sure in their heart of hearts they’re not against file sharing and probably wouldn’t advocate busting little billy sat in his bedroom downloading songs in between eating his bowl of frosties and getting ready for football, but don’t expect good quality musicians to break themselves in two and then make it easy for you and if they do decide to do that show them the respect they deserve for going to all that effort so you could listen in comfort.

TBone says:

Re: Copying MP3's

No, truly we are not owed music. I for one will be very upset when Aerosmith(ex.) stops making it for the public but I will most certainly not be hunting down Steven Tyler and demanding that he pick up his mic again.
In reality though the music business has gotten too easy, there are too many “artists” out there making crap. File sharing in my opinion will just weed that out. I will not stop buying the albums of my favorite artists and I don’t think many will. We will just be spared the pain of hearing the latest drugged up, hoed out, super star(let) creating yet another version of ‘you know your in love with me because I am hot and rich and I have the life you wish you had’. Not to mention the pain of listening to more tabloid crap about them.

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