UK Band Admits It's 'Utterly Dependent' On Piracy

from the except-they-call-it-viral-promotion dept

At some point, it won’t make sense to post these sorts of examples any more because it will just be common sense that bands can and do benefit from so-called “piracy,” but every time we post one of these stories, we get people complaining that this couldn’t possibly work for others. When a band is big, then it will never work for small artists. When they’re small, it’ll never work for big artists. Once we even had a commenter complain that it might work for big artists or small artists — but it was the all important artists in the middle that it would never work for.

So, here we go again, with yet another example of a band that isn’t worried about piracy. It’s an award-winning acoustic folk duo out of the UK, called Show of Hands, where one of the members admits that one of the most popular ways that people find out about the band is when others share the band’s music, and this often drives them to come out to shows and buy CDs as well. The band points out that “piracy” is a bad description of what happens:

You may call this process ‘piracy’ if you wish – for me it is an act of generosity and it both increases our audience size and record sales. And as I always say on the night – if you’re going to do it anyway you may as well feel good about it! I believe the official term is ‘viral marketing’, and we depend utterly upon it.

Yet, if he listened to the RIAA or the IFPI, apparently, all this viral marketing that the band depends on would be “no different than common theft.”

Filed Under: ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “UK Band Admits It's 'Utterly Dependent' On Piracy”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Have you tried this dish?

So me and my friends are out at a fancy restaurant and I get some uber house specialty. I **LOVE** it so much and just rant about it. My friend asks to try it and as I am about the give him some, the Mater Die named Riaa comes over and tells me that isn’t allowed. He says if they want to try it they will have to order it for themselves.


Wait, that would never happen…

wasnt me! says:

1 for one agree that sharing music is the best marketing tool ever, plus its free.

what i think most ppl say (including my self) wouldn’t work for “small”/unknown artists, is a business model like the one used by Trent Reznor.

bottom line is there are different way’s to sell music now a days ranging from the “shareware model” pay what you think is fair to the “special/limited edition model”, its for the band and or there managers to see which fits them best.

im probably not a reference but i prefer to have the actual cd so in most cases i only download (not talking itune or the likes here) what i cant find in stores).

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure which one “business model” that Reznor is using (he uses many) you claim wouldn’t work for a small artist. However, there are ample business models that use the distribution-of-content-at-no-cost-to-customer approach, many having been quite successful for small artists.

i prefer to have the actual cd

You yourself are a PERFECT example of how a small artist could thrive via FREE downloads. Small artists cannot be found in most “record stores” simply because they are too small. The viral-marketing approach of distributing FREE music allows them to attract customers such as yourself, and sell the physical (scarce) CD to an appreciative audience.

If someone hears the music and decides not to bother buying the CD (for whatever reason), what is the harm to the artist? No harm whatsoever.

Michael Long (user link) says:

Their choice...

If they want to give away their music, or don’t mind if fans trade their music, and if they think it helps increase their audience and ticket sales, then that’s their prerogative, their marketing decision and their choice.

Where the line blurs is when a musican or band doesn’t feel that way and doesn’t want their music or CDs “shared” or ripped off for free. If it’s okay to respect the band’s wishes in the first case, then why is it okay to ignore them in the second?

If it’s “obvious” that sharing is the best promotional technique, then eventually it will become obvious to all of the musicians and groups, and everyone will do so. If some choose NOT to do so, then, by the same logic, the only one it hurts is the band itself.

Unfortunately, it seems that pirates don’t care one way or the other. They want their music for free, believe they’re entitled to it for free, and they take it for free, regardless.

Saying they’re “promoting the band” or engaging in “viral marketing” is simply slapping yet another layer of rationalization on the simple fact they’d rather spend their money elsewhere. And stealing it let’s them do so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Their choice...

It started with Napster and is usually TPB now – every time Big Content thinks it’s won a round against file sharing, it turns out it’s actually made the problem worse. Even if you have an ISP-led crackdown, you’ve got encryption, anonymous routing (Tor and the like) and good old blacklisting (PeerGuardian) that are all effective at keeping file sharing going.

I’m not going to say it definitely can’t be stopped, but all the evidence points to that being the case.

CJR says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Their choice...

I’m going to say it. FILE SHARING CANNOT BE STOPPED. ISPs cannot stop the people who hand over hard drives of music, video, and apps to their friends, goes on everyday. They cannot stop the torrent network, goes on everyday. Those who think it can are living in their own little world. Let them continue to develop solutions that only sharpen the skills of those who can circumvent. It’s been like a free education, hey that’s a great fringe benefit.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Their choice...

“That’s certainly the current mindset. Whether or not it’s true remains to be seen.”

Show me any system that hasn’t been broken or bypassed.

Has counterfeiting ever stopped since the printing press was invented? Judging from the ‘pirate’ Harry Potter books I’d say no. And I’m not talking about the “electronic” versions in .PDF you can download either.

Phone phreaking apparently can still occur, FEMA just footed the bill for some calls to the Middle East.

Or how about DRM for video games. Not a *single* one of them has been successful. All can be broken, all HAVE been broken.

Unless you take down the Internet or change in a way that it is no longer the same thing except in name (which would defeat the purpose and would never be as successful) file sharing will go on.

The protocols *might* change, though I doubt it. BitTorrent is an elegant solution to a networking problem and you can’t ban a protocol just because you MIGHT do something illegal with it. Otherwise HTTP would have been banned a while ago for you being ABLE to host a terrorist website.

Even IF the ‘Net changes so that filesharing is “impossible” (again, laughable) you can always go back to burning CD’s for friends. Those that file share now have all that music.

And many of the people that host the files or even some that just host trackers are the kinds of people that would burn as many CD’s as possible and start mailing them out. Just to spite the RIAA.

joe says:

Re: Re: Re: Their choice...

Lets see …..
They tried to stop copying of Commodore 64 games. Never worked. The ‘bad guys’ created programs that bypassed them. This of course repeated and repeated. Eventually, they gave up.

Microsoft for years distributed software with no copy protection, windows, office word, etc. Suddenly, there is a problem and for the last few years they have tried to stop it, no luck. It is still readily available and easy to come by.

Next the music industry suddenly decided that copying of DVD’s and CDs was bad, we’ve tried watermarking, encryption, guilt advertising, didn’t work.

Have you been to any security conferences, DefCon, Blackhat, or read any papers by university researchers? Talked to anyone who is actually good an knows security?

Good luck stopping it. Won’t be in the next 10 years if at all thats for sure.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Their choice...

“”… point is file sharing can not be stopped…”

That’s certainly the current mindset. Whether or not it’s true remains to be seen.”

You can’t be that stupid, surely? “File sharing” has been happening for at least as long as the record industry has existed, and will continue for as long as it continues to exist.

It started off as people playing records for their friends and loaning them the records. Then, people made mixtapes for friends, then CDs. Sometimes copying the whole albums instead of just selecting certain songs. Then, people were able to do it online.

Funnily enough, the industry has always been against these activities, even though they benefited greatly from the marketing they provided. Just as the “home taping is killing music” propaganda was utterly false, so is the rhetoric against file sharing online. The trick is working out how to take advantage of this kind of activity and use it to drive sales. The band in the article are yet another in a long line of bands who have come up with another unique way of doing so. Again, the only people suffering are the King Canutes in the RIAA who try in vain to stop the tides of change.

martyburns (profile) says:

Re: Their choice...

If I choose not to believe in the sun, it does not mean it doesn’t exist. If I choose not to believe the world is round, it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

If a band chooses to believe that they must fight piracy by campaigning against it and whining that people are stealing their music, it doesn’t mean that it is hurting their CD or concert sales.

I can’t see that music sharing is going to go away, but if you think it will, then good on you. Bands should just wake up and make the most out of the current situation.

SomeGuy says:

Re: Their choice...

I actually agree with you: if a band says, “hey, don’t share my music,” it’s wrong for us to go against their wishes. The point, though, is that this is a dumb idea — and by saying it’s a dumb idea I’m not saying we should do what we know is best for them, I’m saying that they really need to take a look at things and see WHY it’s a dumb idea, and then change their attitude. If they don’t, they’ll fail.

That’s the bottom line. It’s not even, “they’ll fail because everyone is going to steal their music anyways,” it’s simply that they’ll fail because they’re putting up barriers that limit the exposure they get and their competitors aren’t — in the end, no one will be buying from them OR downloading their stuff because they’ll be unknown.

Happy Pirate says:

Re: Their choice...

You know, one of these days people opposed to downloading are going to figure out that calling us pirates doesn’t help. Pirates are cool! Look at Pirates of the Caribbean. Right now being called a pirate isn’t an insult, or even a very good descriptive term. Instead of conjuring images of theft and violence, all we see is Johnny Depp’s drunken staggering and wonderful “Jack Sparrow.” Please, stop stroking our egos, it’s not helping your case.

Dav says:

this should be obvious

For those of us non-sheep that don’t buy a CD because we are told it is cool, sharing music is often the only way to get a taste of what is out there.

Most people do not want to spend money to see whether or not they like something.

The real issue is what to do when you decide you like a band and want to acquire their entire discography. Do you go to HMV and pay £18 for the CD, pay £10 to download it or have it for free?
What the music industry needs to realise is that these prices are too high, and when a free download is a click away the legal option has to be attractive. I talk to many people who agree with me on this. If all CDs were £5 and downloads were £3 per album rather then £18 and £10 they may find people are willing to pay. If it isn’t for the moral reasons, it will probably because it is a quick and simple way to get a guaranteed high quality copy.

Russell Wilson says:

Re: this should be obvious

This is very flawed.

Basically, what you’re saying is, people steal music because it’s free, easy, and the music’s too expensive.

Let’s do a simple comparison. You’ve test-driven a car. You know you like it. That test drive was, of course, free.

So, oh! What’s this! Here’s that car you test-drove. Unlocked, too. Keys in the ignition. You know you like it, and hey! It’s free! Jump in! Besides, it’d be too expensive to buy.

Your logic is flawed. Basically, what you’re saying is to counter-act it, downloading music illegally should have stiffer penalties (what happens when you steal a car?).

As unfortunate as it is, people download music (the MAJORITY of people) because it’s there, and they know the odds of them getting caught are slim to none. Along the same lines, I constantly hear “Oh…if I like it…I’ll buy the album!”. What a load of bull. I know tons of people with thousands of mp3s…and what? 4 CDs? None of the music is paid for, mind you, and they listen to it quite a bit. Wow, guess that’d mean they don’t like it, huh?

Trent Reznor, as much as I dislike him, did it right in my opinion. Radiohead did it right, in my opinion. The music industry in general *does* need to embrace new technology, but everyone constantly bitching about them does nothing. I don’t believe many people here have degrees that put them as experts in both technology and international business, and it amuses me that everyone believes they can tell the RIAA, or the industry in general, how to run their business.

Twinrova says:

Re: Re: this should be obvious

“So, oh! What’s this! Here’s that car you test-drove. Unlocked, too. Keys in the ignition. You know you like it, and hey! It’s free! Jump in! Besides, it’d be too expensive to buy.”

This analogy is what’s flawed.

First, music is copied at virtually no cost meaning it has an infinite number of products it can distribute.

Cars, on the other hand, take resources to build, make, and distribute. We don’t pay taxes on “transportation fee” with music.

People always assume artists made money by CD sales. This isn’t completely true. Many, many artists made their money from merchandising, including concerts (merchandising themselves). It’s always been this way and nothing has changed.

Downloading music isn’t stealing. We don’t walk into stores and walk out with product. You can’t steal music from iTunes (which offers many MP3s for free, by the way) so we access portals giving us ways to share music.

As a software developer, I often gave most of my work away for free (years ago). Not shareware. Freeware. Granted, it wasn’t full scale apps, but this is what I needed to garner sales of my full scale apps.

Media of any format is no different. Software, movies, music, and even ebooks need to present themselves in a manner to which consumers can “test” the waters before buying.

How many times have you read people getting pissed having spent $16+ dollars for a CD only to find the one song they liked was the only one on it worth having? That’s $16+ for a single song (which is how most CD sales were driven).

I wish the gaming industry took this approach. With the increase price in games, it truly, truly sucks to see $50+ flushed down the toilet because the game was just that bad.

For the complaint you have of people having thousands of MP3s but only a few CDs, just note these people are still advertisers because word of mouth has always been the best form of advertisement and sharing files is exactly what this does.

And I’ve yet to see a band bitch about losing money from music sharing. Most of their complaints are over the very recording studio representing them because of money issues.

I’m waiting for the blog in which recording artists sue the RIAA for not distributing the funds owed to them.
THAT’S stealing.

Dav says:

Re: Re: this should be obvious

is it flawed? As people have said a digital file is not a physical thing.

If we were discussing the stealing of a CD then your argument would be valid.

As it stands we are sharing something that only exists in virtual space. With file sharing the resources required for its production (I.E bandwidth and power) are freely given.

This leaves only the cost on intellectual property, the stealing of which is very different from the stealing of the car. Additionaly by charing a file you have not taken something from someone in a purse sence as the origional is still in tact and with its owner, instead a perfect copy has been produced. Taken together, for your car example it would be akin to me getting the specifications of the car then going out and making myself a replica. I have not stolen the car, just copied it.

You are right that this is stealing, but not in the conventional manor. My post was making a point that people will steal and that morality is a lesser issue with music. I then went on to state that to prevent mass file sharing the music industry MUST compete with free.

This is away from the major focus though. The RIAA is indeed so fixated on preventing all hsaring of music that it has the potential to destroy its positive effects.

How has hasnt borrowed a CD from a friend, decided they like it and then proceed to begin buying music from the same band?

I am sure many people have illigally downloaded an album to see wheather they like a band, and later purchaced tickets to their gigs.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re: Re: this should be obvious

You are right that this is stealing…

No, no he is not (and neither are you). Stealing something involves depriving the owner of that thing. When someone takes a copy of a digital work, they have not deprived the owner of that work in any way.

At best it is infringement of the owner’s want/desire for the work.

But the owner still has the work, so there is NO THEFT whatsoever.

Michial (user link) says:

Re: Re: this should be obvious


Your fighting a losing battle with these fools. They feel that just because their coping of music does not cost them nothing they feel they have every right to the material.

The person that created the son deserves nothing because he owns nothing. The digital file is “virtual” and they have every right to do with it what they want…

Fools that feel this way will find themselves with nothing.

I am not giving my name! says:

Re: Re: Re: this should be obvious

“Your fighting a losing battle with these fools. They feel that just because their coping of music does not cost them nothing they feel they have every right to the material…Fools that feel this way will find themselves with nothing.”

What the hell are you talking about?

If you are saying that “these fools” will never change their position, it’s not because they are “fools” it’s because that is how the economy works. You know, years ago, people actually went out and trashed computers fearing that it will take over their jobs and make their lives worse. Well, years later, we see how useful computers are and how they can actually create jobs. But that was because the economy led us there, the people were demanding something new, so everyone became educated, thus leading to a digital age.

So if you’re saying that people are foolish for believing in “piracy” as a form of marketing, then you, sir, are stuck in history.

I think there is still a steam powered factory in the midwest with your name on it.

DanC says:

Re: Re: Re: this should be obvious

They feel that just because their coping of music does not cost them nothing they feel they have every right to the material.

Making statements like this shows that you have completely failed to understand the points that are being made. The fact that music can be reproduced at essentially a zero cost provides an infinite supply, which will naturally drive the price towards zero. Currently, there are controls in place that attempt to institute an artificial scarcity to counteract this and allow price control. And those controls are proving to be both ineffective and detrimental.

Some people, such as yourself, seem to think that because it is constantly stressed that theft and infringement are two different things, that infringement is somehow being advocated. It isn’t – they’re both illegal. The point being made is that taking advantage of the features of digital goods makes more sense than relying on artificial controls that work against them.

The person that created the son deserves nothing because he owns nothing. The digital file is “virtual” and they have every right to do with it what they want…

The person deserves to be paid for the work required to create a digitally distributed product. But you are correct in terms of the treatment of the file; once I’ve received it (legally), I can do what I wish to it, including ripping out the DRM.

Fools that feel this way will find themselves with nothing.

As should be fairly obvious by now, Michial, the only fool in this case is you. Perhaps you should try to actually comprehend the argument instead of making the same old tired, uninformed, and disproven accusations that many others have made before you.

Master Baiter the Fisherman says:

Re: Re: this should be obvious

No Russ, your logic is flawed.

I didn’t steal the car off the lot. I test drove it, loved it and bought it. But now Toyota says I cannot loan it to my friend; in fact I can’t even park it in my friend’s garage, let my friends fill all the seats in it or even drive it in public.


AND>>>I do ocassionally rip friend’s CDs or “borrow” a song of the net, and if I like it I DO buy it. If I don’t I delete. Not everyone out there is like the people you claim to know.

“I know tons of people…”*

*”people” = Russell Wilson = ripping off the RIAA


Bear on a Bike says:

Piracy worked for Microsoft

Back when Microsoft was the underdog in office productivity, Excel could be copied (pirated) freely, while Lotus 123 forced a bizarre scheme of license management involving copying the license back to a 5 1/4 in floppy to move it from machine to machine. Microsoft won the war, partly by allowing (inviting) piracy.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think this story illustrates what the recording industry fears most. Piracy is good for the bands. It empowers them in negotiations when they become more popular, and may even cause them to consider why they need the recording industry at all.

Every time the recording industry issues a statement that the recording industry opposes piracy because it hurts musicians they should be charged with fraud.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re:

Quit calling it “piracy” when the artists themselves are saying it isn’t.

It is only “piracy” when the artist does not sanction the act.

As more artists become aware of the power of P2P (and the power…and business sense…of Free), then the simple act of file sharing is NOT “piracy”. If they sanction the act, either directly as part of their business model or simply to reap the benefits of “viral marketing”, then it is no longer piracy.

Pete Dixon (profile) says:

Basic economics

Economics is predicated on the idea of the distribution of scarce resources. Files that can be copied, be they music files or ebooks, are not scarce resources because they can be infinitely copied and distributed for free.

Creators of these types of content will need to find some other business model other than ones that rely on laws and policing ( think of apples being sold on a street where are hungry and the population knows there is a infinitely powerful ‘apple generator’ under the stall that creates apples for free. Do you really think people are going to suffer high priced apples in this situation?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Rhetoric Check

Economics is predicated on the idea of the distribution of scarce resources. Files that can be copied, be they music files or ebooks, are not scarce resources because they can be infinitely copied and distributed for free.

There can’t be any serious argument on this point.

Creators of these types of content will need to find some other business model…

Here’s where the trouble begins.

I think we have to first accept that, whatever the method, creators need to have the potential (meaning, if the work is largely appealing) to generate a reasonable income (meaning, enough to live reasonably given the current cost of living). I think the majority of readers here also agree with this statement. Occasionally, you see someone denying this, and I can only dismiss this sentiment is unreasonable and un-Constitutional.

The problem then is: how to reconcile A (economics of scarce/nearly infinite) with B (potential for content creators to earn money).

I think an approach that focuses, in effort and in rhetoric, to successfully reconcile A and B will be most effective. Unfortunately, most of the current rhetoric (and much of the effort) keeps A and B in conflict, intentionally or otherwise.

Please, TechDirt, and particularly TechDirt commentors, refocus and reframe your rhetoric!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Rhetoric Check

TechDirt is all about reconciling the economics of scarce and infinite goods with business models that allow creators to make money. If you think they’re putting those ideas in conflict then you’re misunderstanding something, or not paying attention, or something.

Also I don’t think the Constitution says anything about anyone having the potential to make a reasonable income. If it does maybe you could point it out.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Rhetoric Check

The problem then is: how to reconcile A (economics of scarce/nearly infinite) with B (potential for content creators to earn money).

Huh? Haven’t we been doing that for years?

I think an approach that focuses, in effort and in rhetoric, to successfully reconcile A and B will be most effective. Unfortunately, most of the current rhetoric (and much of the effort) keeps A and B in conflict, intentionally or otherwise.

Again, I don’t see what “conflict” you’re talking about. The point we’ve made from the beginning is that A and B aren’t in conflict and actually align perfectly.

hegemon13 says:

Funny thing...

Bands originally turned to record labels to get exposure. They paid huge amounts of money in the form of the majority of profits on their work just so that record labels would get their songs onto the radio to be heard…for free.

Now, a technology exists for self-promotion and self-distribution. More people can hear the music than ever before, and it costs the band…NOTHING! Yet, it is still news when an artist accepts so-called “piracy” as a good thing. The recording industry has done a lot wrong, but, boy, they have done a bang-up job of brainwashing “their” artists.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re:

“Hard” is relative. Something hard for one is a natural and/or logical act for another.

The main issue with artists setting up their own label is that they are typically artists and not business people. Spending energy on building a label, marketing, sales, distribution channels, reproduction, etc… takes away from the ability to focus on creating art.

But certainly many artists today are creating their own labels, partly to take back what the big labels are keeping from them (profits, rights) and partly to help up-and-coming acts to get a toe-hold without selling their souls.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The question today is, what ARE lables offering artists? It’s getting easier and easier to record your own music and get it out on the Internet for distribution/exposure. As long as there’s someone there who can help the band set up a business modle to collect the money, they’re set. A lable today offers little benefit at a great cost. If they’re to survive, they need to change.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re:

How is the poster an “idiot” for pointing out a bluntly true fact?

Does this fact directly lead to anarchy? No.

There are people fighting a battle they simply cannot win, and you call those that foresee this “idiots”?

What do you call someone who simply will not accept that they cannot walk on water yet continue to try?

Tross says:

Amen Brother!

It’s time for the entertainment industry to embrace and get back to earning wages the good old fashioned way – by working for it! These bands are welcome to charge a fair rate for their live shows and clearly will fill bigger venues the better known and loved they are. Making their music “open” is a great way to market themselves without the deep pockets of the deviant entertainment industry that “markets” their way into our homes.

It’s a bit less obvious how the movie industry an make fair wages by working for it. IMHO, people will continue to go to movie theaters for the total movie experience from deadly good tasting popcorn to the social aspect. Unfortunately the overpaid childish actors with absolutely no social responsibility don’t actually have to work each time a theater plays their movies. Perhaps that means they should simply settle for much less royalties. And if they don’t $%^&($ like it, one thing American Idol proved for us, there are millions of people willing to take their place in a second! Time to accept and embrace a new world that’s long overdue. We just need our governments to stop protecting the empires that condone the irresponsible celebrity crap that goes along with their ridiculous earnings. These empires have been getting fat for far too long. Now, with a proliferation of frictionless media distribution via the internet, these empires add less and less value. In every other industry, that leads to bankruptcy. Government protection merely prolongs the inevitable.

Amen! I love to hear about true artists willing to work – doing what they love – to earn a living! We should all be so lucky.

AutoCow says:

No, this band just haven't gotten to Stage 2

Most bands realise that exposure is the key to success, and that word of mouth is more powerful than tv/radi-type media.

A classic example: Metallica only got as big as they did due to the massive bootlegging that went on with their songs.

However, the greedy elements of the industry realised that they could get money from their fans AND sue them too, and make even more money.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...