Which Would You Rather Have: 100,000 Unauthorized Downloads Of Your Music… Or None?

from the just-asking dept

As a bit of a follow up to our discussion of the Canadian band (who will remain nameless) that complained vociferously that its debut album had been shared on torrent sites over 100,000 times, despite no torrents of the band being findable through any of the normal means, an interesting point has been raised:

If you’re a band, would you rather your album was shared 100,000 times via unauthorized means… or is widely ignored and not shared at all?

Which do you think is a better sign of a band in trouble?

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Comments on “Which Would You Rather Have: 100,000 Unauthorized Downloads Of Your Music… Or None?”

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Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So you’re going with the “the pirates are doing them a favor” argument? Splendid.

No one said that.

But the simple fact that there is absolutely no interest in their music on the file sharing scene certainly does imply that their management is not doing their jobs. (maybe their managers are spending way too much time on blogs railing against file sharing instead of promoting the band – but who knows)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 6th, 2011 @ 12:39pm

A side may have been implied, but look at the question from an objective stand point.

If no one is torrenting your band’s album it suggests to me that the band is either a. awful, and perhaps should choose a career that they are equally passionate about but good at. Or b. they aren’t well enough known yet and maybe should be doing a bit more promotion of their work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So you’re going with the “the pirates are doing them a favor” argument?

Sounds to me like the pirates aren’t doing them any favors at all. Regardless of your stance on piracy, it is, if nothing else, a decent barometer of something’s popularity. When even the freeloading pirates ignore something, well, you get the picture.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“I made a typo. My bad. Got anything to add?”

Well I do, Skippy. Presenting a question on whether or not you’d prefer to have tons of infringing downloads or none at all, even phrased as the admittedly loaded question that Mike posed, is NOT claiming that “pirates are doing them a favor”. And you know that.

It’s about best results. If pirating is a symptom of success, then the perspective should be a band happy with success. If pirating IS aiding in success, then again we’re at a band with the perspective of happy happy, joy joy.

What’s NOT possible is having this much interest in a band and they’re not being able to monetize that interest. Regardless of all else, the very fact that 100k people are sharing their music suggests that they MUST be successful unless they’re complete idiots.

What YOU stated on the other hand was merely an inflammatory remark designed only to lob another thought grenade at your favorite target, all the while sumiltaneously contributing nothing and making yourself look plainly foolish in the eyes of the esteemed community…

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

For as many posts as you AC’s whine about how much Mike just lovessss piracy, I am surprised you miss all the posts where he goes into detail about his thoughts on it. You know, the ones where he states repeated he does not endorse it as it is against the law, but gives examples on how to use it for a band’s advantage.

Spaceboy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s not the tack he is taking, but to answer the implied question in your reply, if pirates had indeed downloaded their music 100,000 times then yes the pirates are doing them a favor. But since no one thought enough of the band in question to even make a torrent, the point is moot.

People download what interests them. Period.

If the band were smart, and they’re not, they would have merchandise or at least a link to iTunes. It’s their own damn fault if they aren’t successful. They don’t even have a way for their 417 Twitter followers to express themselves, like T-shirts or posters. This defies common sense. They should fire their manager.

SomeGuy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

if pirates had indeed downloaded their music 100,000 times then yes the pirates are doing them a favor.

I wouldn’t go so far as to make that statement. It can be hypothesized that pirates are doing them a favor if you assume the favor being done is free promotion – and while I think there’s merit to that argument, I’m not sure there’s enough evidence to just state it flatly.

People download what interests them. Period.

This statement is the key, though. If 100,000 people downloaded your music, it’s a fair bet that 100,000 people had some amount of interest in your band (though, it may be true that some percentage sampled your music and decided it wasn’t their style, so you can’t say you have 100,000 fans). If people are downloading your stuff, there’s some amount of interest being generated, and now the question is how to harness that. If no one is downloading your stuff, then there are other potentially-more-concerning questions you need to start asking (like “is this something we can be successful at” and “why are we being ignored”).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:


if that is your real name….

the implication here is that as an artist the ONLY motivation for your work is money.

if i create something, and no one ever sees it, then what was the purpose? self enlightnement only fuels for so long.

sure i can graphitti the back of my dresser with the next mona lisa… but no, i couldn’t. the mona lisa is, because we have all seen it. true it was hidden away in some french king’s bathroom for a bit, but these things happen.

the point is this.

if you are trying to be an artist you have to make a name for yourself BEFORE you can make money. if no one cares about your stuff, then no one is going to pay for it.

oh and downloads is the new radio play. if you aren’t getting downloaded, no one cares.

ps, mike, that stupid bar thingy at the bottom of your site makes IE7 kirk out. yes, i know, but i can’t upgrade, this is a locked work machine. constant reloading, freezing while typing, fun stuff.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: 100,000 Missed Sales

No, but the “1000 true fans” concept still applies. That’s a 1% conversion rate from the 100.000 downloads. IF you can’t get a 1% conversion rate of fans, either:

a) Your ‘music’ is so shit even the consumers don’t want to touch it; or
b) you fail at monetising.

To paraphrase P.T. Barnum, “I don’t care what you write about me as long as you spell my name right.”

Brandon S. Hire (user link) says:

Re: 100,000 Missed Sales

It could be looked at, as you have, as 100,000 missed sales. But I choose to look at this differently. Think about this. You’re now exposing your product to 100,000 people who would’ve likely not bought your damn CD to begin with because they knew they could get it free through one means or another. But now that you’ve got them hooked to your brand, you interact with them via social media and get them to BUY concert tickets, BUY Tshirts, and BUY future albums!

Hmm, getting free exposure of my product to 100,000 potential customers who might be interested in my other products that aren’t a CD? Seems better to me than bitching about a 4mb download!

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:


With all of the competition in the entertainment industry these days, obscurity is a much larger threat to any artist, producer, programmer, or author than piracy will ever be. Any band that gets pirated should at least be happy that people care enough to do that, even if not enough to pay.
Kind of goes back to the true fan idea. The more your music spreads, the more true fans you will find that will donate money to you if they have to (in absence of merchandise) just because they love what you have done or want you to continue doing it (or in most cases I would think, both).

I know there are a few musicians I help support just by donation (note that they are in no way under the RIAA, thank you riaaradar.com ). There are others that offer merch, and I partake of the goods in exchange for my cash because they are just that darn cool. There is tons of music out there I will listen to. I like it. But not enough to be a true fan. I only have so much money I spend over any given duration on entertainment. Video games eat some of that up. Netflix gets some (haven’t bought a movie in awhile because of that one actually). And then there are these bands that I keep a good eye on.

Only so much time and there are lots of entertainers trying to get it (and my money). I support what is in my opinion the best. I know other people’s opinions differ from mine, and I am fine with that. That’s just life. As long as I am never forced to support the likes of the Bieber or other such acts that somehow make it to the top of the charts (which I don’t believe in) and never seem to enjoy anything from them, then life is good.

bigpicture says:

Re: Competition

That’s right, back in the day, the Labels used to give free disks to the radio stations, and bribe the radio DJs to play them as often as possible. “That was also 100,000 records that they did not sell”, you could also label that piracy. And yes, it was just for that purpose, to avoid obscurity.

But do you think that you will ever convince the idiots of that fact? Nobody buys music without first listening to it, and nobody buys an album for just one or two songs that they like. Downloading serves the purpose of obtaining music without first listening to it, and if you don’t like it delete it at no cost. If you don’t like what’s playing on the radio, change the station. But if the music is “quality” no problem buying it at the right price.

Jason Parker (profile) says:

100,000 potential sales

I would SO love it if my music was torrented 100,000 times. The more the merrier!

And AC…there’s no way that it equates to 100,000 missed sales. Most people who torrent fall under two categories: those who would never buy the music anyway, and those who are looking to see if they like it before purchasing more. The former category is worthless, and the latter category are the potential fans that free downloads capture.

That’s why all my music is on Bandcamp and fully streamable before purchase. I’d much rather have people be able to listen and decide if they are fans before spending any money. This way, I know that the people purchasing my music are fans and potential long-term backers. I’ll take that over one-time disappointed purchasers anyday!


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 100,000 potential sales

I support your model completely. If your music was more to my tastes, I would purchase to support you. I’m half tempted to make a purchase just on the merits of that comment alone. The big road block here is that your pricing is a bit high for my tastes (I typically pay half as much for plastic discs with artwork and such, sometimes even less than half…).

Jason Parker (profile) says:

Re: Re: 100,000 potential sales

Thanks for even considering it. 😉

I price downloads as Pay What You Want, so you can have that for whatever price you’d like to pay. For the physical CDs, I’m charging $10-12 so that I can recoup the cost of making the CDs (mostly paying the musicians, licensing fees, recording, mastering, replication, etc.). Plus, they’re going to come with a real spiffy package!

sam sin says:

what these idiots have done is simply prove that their music is not liked very much, if at all by, basically, anyone. they have used desperate measures and outright lies to try to get some sort of recognition, following and fans. doubt that it will work, tho’ particularly when they have a manager that is even more desperate than the band to get some sort of fame. after what has happened, i also doubt if many of the potential fans will become actual fans, regardless of whether the band is any good or not. and the proof they supposedly have of the 100,000 (illegal) downloads? non-existent!

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Unfortunately, now they’re getting attention (and their music is now being distributed on major file-sharing sites), which will likely mean people will listen to their music, of which some will become fans. In the end, they’re extremely likely to come out ahead (at least relative to their prior situation), which isn’t the outcome I’d prefer.

Some have even suggested that this was all a show to get publicity. If so it’s certainly clever, but they can still count me among their enemies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Back in the ‘Old’ days I used to make bootleg copies of songs by taping my local fm station with cassette tape…it never stopped me buying the stuff I liked….now we have the Internet Nd hard drives…. what’s the diff?

Quality for one.”

Yeah, like the FM radio version often sounded *better* in an automobile or other noisy environment because of the high quality compression they used. A perfect example of the “pirate” version being better in some ways.

fogbugzd (profile) says:


I have a friend who is a high school librarian. He always started the year by putting out a rack of paperback books right near the entrance to the library. One year he got concerned because it took longer than usual for all of the paperback books to get stolen. He did some checking and confirmed that library usage was indeed down by several other measures. He started a couple of programs to get library usage back up, but his first clue that there was a problem came from books not being stolen at the usual rate.

bob (profile) says:

Sort of a lame question

This type of question applies to pretty much anything. Would you rather have a dog with so many fleas that no one would adopt him/her from the pound or would you want a show dog that everyone wants? Would you want a car that’s stolen every other day or one that the thieves could care less about? Every desirability metric fits here.

Now the stock answer from the TechDirt echo chamber is: gosh, I want to be pirated because I know that somehow, some way other money will finds its way into my pocket. Maybe I’ll sell more t-shirts. Maybe there will still be suckers who won’t download the torrent file. Maybe I’ll be able to make money off of grandma who can’t work the torrent machine.

While that may be true, the secondary funding sources are always either unfair to some clueless suckers or based on selling something else. Neither is fair or economically efficient.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Sort of a lame question


While that may be true, the secondary funding sources are always either unfair to some clueless suckers or based on selling something else. Neither is fair or economically efficient.

Except the secondary sources of income are the ones that are real and fair.

The thought that someone owns rents from everyone who uses something he produced is not only unfair is impractical in the real world.

About the dog analogy, that one is inverted, the correct construction of that, should be:

Would you prefer a flea invested mutt that everyone likes it and want to take home and probably are trying to steal it, or do you want a clean cut pure race dog that nobody cares or want it even for free?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Sort of a lame question

who said economics was fair? Piracy / copyright / copyleft and all the rest come to one final answer – Economics – supply/demand/profit/loss/cost/value – internet did not change the basics it just made it so that closed economic engine (music and video sales) is now open to lots and lots more people to come in and find a way to profit… and now we watch the former captains of music and video sink with the ship till they figure out how to plug the hole that their emotions will not acknowledge exists

Joe (profile) says:

Re: Sort of a lame question

“Now the stock answer from the TechDirt echo chamber is: gosh, I want to be pirated because I know that somehow, some way other money will finds its way into my pocket.”

As opposed to selling something to nobody and no money finding it’s way into your pocket?

If you think that point of this article was that you can’t succeed without be being pirated or only those who are pirated can succeed, then you need to stop, take a break and try rereading it. (SPOILER: It’s not.)

SomeGuy (profile) says:

Re: Sort of a lame question

funding sources are always either unfair to some clueless suckers or based on selling something else.

The Lables and their musicians have been doing this for years anyways. The “Something Else” is called CDs and the clueless suckers are the guys who paid $15+ because they liked one song on the radio and got a bunch of filler tracks.

greg.fenton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Yes.

Ignoring the ridiculous association of copyright and sexual harassment, I completely agree that it is about permission. In fact, many others posting here (Mike included) agree too.

There are two main issues at work here:

1. the automatic denial of permission that copyright imposes: any work of art is automatically copyrighted…the author has to do work to free it up

2. the culture of copyright: many artists don’t understand or even realize that there are choices of business models other than the ones associated with the automatic copyright.

someone (profile) says:

Sue the fans?

With no downloads you have no fans and no cash.

With 100k unauthorized downloads you have fans but no cash.
But fans have a monetary value so unauthorized downloads would be preferred.

Now that you took the preferred option you have two choices:
1. Sell fans other things like boxed sets, posters, t-shirts, concerts etc and make some money. This option leads to more fans that are happy to put money into your pocket.

2. Sue your fans to make money. This option leads to less fans, lots of haters and maybe some money.

Anonymous Coward says:

As a professional musician...

…I would wet my pants with joy if we managed 100,000 downloads. We’ve considered ourselves fortunate to get to 8000, and that took an insane amount of hard work.

100,000 downloads means 100,000 people who might come to a show or buy something from us or tell 100,000 other people. We don’t need any sales out of this, we need publicity, because we can’t AFFORD that kind of publicity, and because the lack of it is a killer. (We do all our own
promotion — record company contracts SUCK.)

We hand out already-ripped (to MP3) songs at shows, by
the way; not to everyone, but to anyone who says hi before
or after, anyone who strikes up a conversation at the bar,
anyone who seems like they give a damn. Sometimes it’s
stuff from the show, sometimes it’s new stuff, once it
was three completely different versions of the same song.
(Country, metal, reggae, if you were wondering.) We tell
them to upload, share, whatever — we don’t care as long
as people are listening.

Pirates? No, they’re our best friends. And if we manage
to attract 100,000 of them, then we’ll try for a million.

Anonymous Coward says:

Given the question the answer is; I’d rather have 100,000 downloads for sure. BUT, I’d rather have 100,000 paid downloads better. Recorded performances are captured moments of creative energy – that’s something special that should have value (maybe not the old school value$$) but a new school value. FREE is unfair to the creators.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’d rather have 100,000 downloads for sure. BUT, I’d rather have 100,000 paid downloads better.

You wouldn’t have 100,000 paid downloads. Most people who download for free, wouldn’t or (more likely, in this economy) couldn’t pay for it. Many who are willing to pay if they can’t get it for free, are also willing to pay if they can.

Let’s every single one of those downloads was blocked. Even if you assume the same demand for the music, you’re looking at 10,000 additional paid downloads at an absolute maximum.

And that’s assuming that being shared by fans does not increase the demand for the music, which is ridiculous. “Word of mouth” promotion is the most valuable kind of promotion, no matter what product you’re talking about.

So, the choice Mike presents is really very accurate.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

#1 is personal experience

You have a point, but I’m not sure I agree. Music – unlike, say, reading books – is primarily a social experience. You’re just as attracted to the social importance of the music as you are to the music itself.

So, I think that word of mouth promotion is actually more important than your personal experience of it (by itself). Sharing, therefore, makes the music more valuable than just the ability for individuals to listen to it in a vacuum.

That’s the way I see it, and I could be wrong, I don’t have it tatooed on my ass or anything.

SomeGuy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I think that depends on the style of music you’re talking about; some songs/styles lend themselves more to a personal level of connection than a social one (think of a ballad or break-up song versus a dance mix).

In the end, I’m more likely to spend money on a band I know I like through personal experience versus spending money on a band a friend says I might like.

ashwinmudigonda (profile) says:

A compliment for sure

Interesting. Only today I was thinking, having been rejected by Random House for my first novel, that I should go to Amazon and do my own ePublishing. However, I told myself that I must ride on the wisdom of the rejection and probably price the book as low as I can. Perhaps, 1$. I don’t want the money now, but the fame. Of course, I can probably go free too. I will think about it once I figure out Amazon’s Kindle space. But it would be a compliment if 100K people read my book/heard my music. I was a nobody. I became a somebody now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You’d pass up on the free publicity? Even if 0 of those 100,000 downloaders made a purchase, you don’t think there’s any chance that they would share with a friend who would purchase? As DH has pointed out several times already, if you can’t make any money from those 100,000 downloaders, you are doing something really wrong.

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:

Having made a career in art for myself years before digital technology existed, I know I can publicize myself without relying on unauthorized digital distribution. So yes, I would pass up on the free publicity. Furthermore, I can make money off my art without the 100,000 downloaders. Even if I couldn’t, I could make money many other ways if I so choose. So again, my preference is for anyone downloading to pay. I believe that perceived value is important in art and I think putting a reasonable cost on a purchase does quite a bit for appreciation of said art.

Mind you, I have no problem with releasing my art for free (and have been doing so my entire career). But in regards to my personal preferences, me choosing to distribute my work for free under specific circumstances and others circumventing my requested price are two different things.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t understand you don’t need the internet, you have other ways of monetizing your work and you still want more control over it?

Why? it is not enough to get paid, you need to get control of every part of the work you have done?

Would you accept that the manufacturer of your house, imposed restrictions on how you should use your own home?

Why do artists deserve to have such a special and powerful rights when no other class of people inside any society in the world have those kind of rights?

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If art was just about making money, why would I bother making art? There are easier ways to make a living. So yes, I do care how my art is distributed because I believe that distribution methods help support appreciation. Just like a painter may prefer a certain kind of paint or a musician a certain form of recording. The way that art is distribution alters perception, and I care about how my art is perceived.

You ask me why art is not treated like things that are not art? Because they are not art.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Does people don’t appreciate Jesus because the Bible is distribute for free to everyone who wants one?

This should never ever be a part of rights, it goes beyond the necessary to produce art.

It is not the artists right to decide who something should be distributed or used, as it is not to any one to decide what others should do with what they pay for.

It is not for you to decide how your work is perceived it is for others to accept it or not and reach their own conclusions.

Not by artificial means anyways.

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Your conflating spiritual concerns with artistic aesthetic and value. Considering that there is a component with spirituality that involves fear of death and the afterlife, the two are hardly equitable.

You cannot universally declare what is necessary for an artist in regards to the production of their art. You know what may be true for you. But you are not qualified on what may be true for all.

All sales are subject to terms. It is the right of the seller to set terms. If you find the terms unreasonable, do not purchase.

Perception of ones artistic vision is at the very core of artistic creation. You might as well say that an oil painter should be forced to use acrylic.

Huph (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Geez, Memyself, what a reasoned series of responses. Thank you for your insights. As an artist myself, you are saying the same things I’m thinking.

And your musings on perception would be well-heeded by those who believe that artists should have no control over how their work is distributed. I find that a lot of people who complain about how bad music is today are often the same people who download and almost never purchase music. I’m surprised that they are unaware of the correlation between effort and derived pleasure.

It’s the Ikea effect, I guess.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I believe that perceived value is important in art and I think putting a reasonable cost on a purchase does quite a bit for appreciation of said art.

You are right, actually. Putting a price on a piece of art does seem to increase its percieved value, at least for certain people.

But are these people really valuing the art? I would say no. I think they only thing they’re “valuing” is the art’s scarcity. The art, itself, could be a complete pile of crap, but it would still be just as valuable to these people as a Van Gogh. These are the same people who would have paid thousands for a tulip bulb in the 1600’s.

Among the underground music scene, there is a slang term for these types of people: “collector scum.” More than a few labels have put out releases by famous artists in very small numbers, and at inflated prices, specifically to earn some quick cash off of these types of people. The music is crap, of course, and even the labels admit it outright, but the art is still “valuable” because some people are willing to pay ridiculous prices for bragging rights.

Is this the type of behavior you want to encourage? Is it the type of behavior you belive should be protected by absolutist laws?

On a different subject:

It is the right of the seller to set terms. If you find the terms unreasonable, do not purchase.

Of course, if you do not purchase, the seller will still blame his lack of sales on piracy. Need proof? Look at the band that inspired this article.

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:

Just for clarification – I’m a writer, not a musician. As to your question, in my personal opinion this matter comes down to the perceived value of art. When we (as a society) can have anything we want anytime we want it, I think we value it less. So I’d rather see people pay in some capacity as I think it is better for the appreciation of art as a whole.

wnyght (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There was a time when artist (writers, musicians, painters etc), created their work not for monetary value, but for the pure purpose of creating art.

If you want another example of how money ruins the core of something, look not further than politics. No one should ever get into politics as a career move, they should do it to better help and serve the people.

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I doubt that is any more true of the past than it is now. There are far easier ways to make money than through the creation of art, and money has always held an important role in life. I have never met a career artist who does not value their art over money, but that doesn’t mean they can divorce themselves from the realities of the modern world either.

I agree with the motivation in regards to politics. But just like the arts, those in politics must also earn a living. Unfortunately, there will always be those whose greed outweighs their need. And those people make the rest look bad.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’d like some clarification, please.

You said you dont care if it is before or after, but you want them to pay. So, if i downloaded your book and read it and thought it made Twilight look like a masterpiece, are you suggesting that i should pay you for wasting my life? If that *is* what you mean, how do you cope with having no central nervous system? If it isn’t what you mean, and you agree that i shouldn’t pay for a book i don’t like, then what is your stance on me passing along your book to someone else, who might enjoy it? What about 5 other people? 25? 50? 500?

I look forward to your response!

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The only one who can waste your life is yourself. You have many ways to determine if you should read a book. You can read reviews or get recommendations from a friend or check the book out from the library. You can stop reading it within a couple of pages. If you chose to read the entire book, from beginning to end then yes, I think you should offer some form of compensation.

Did you read Twilight? I didn’t. I didn’t need to read it to know it would probably not appeal to me. I chose not to waste my life. The power is in your hands to make educated and reasonable decisions that will greatly minimize your risks.

Are you looking for a guarantee that all things will meet your preferences at all times?

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Also worth noting: You might have missed where I explained that I have made a career out of making aspects of my work available for free. I do this to meet the concern you mention. But that doesn’t mean that I agree with you (in general, not you specific) taking the decision out of my hands on how my work should be distributed.

If you are sensitive enough to how your time might be “wasted” the easy answer is to simply not to consume art that requires upfront payment. I make that choice all the time.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

If you chose to read the entire book, from beginning to end then yes, I think you should offer some form of compensation.

So, you seriously feel that my appreciation of your art should be completely disconnected from me paying for your art? I’m not sure what world you live in, but hop on down from that glittery unicorn and grab an economics 101 book. That’s not how the real world works anymore.

Did you read Twilight? I didn’t.

I did. I didn’t like it, but then again, I didn’t waste any money on it, just my time. (Which, if you ask my employer, is worth a good deal of money- imagine that!)

Are you looking for a guarantee that all things will meet your preferences at all times?

No, no guarantee is required or desired, as the current/future state is such that I have quick and easy access to any book I’d like to read. If your book is good enough that I want to read more of your works, I’ll invest money in you in the hopes that you write more. If your book seems like it was ghost written by Snooki, you won’t receive a cent from me. Thems the breaks, pal.

If you are sensitive enough to how your time might be “wasted” the easy answer is to simply not to consume art that requires upfront payment.

Ignoring the fact that you seem to have the customer/merchant relationship all screwed up, *I’d* like to point out that I don’t consume any art that requires up front payment. So if your book isn’t available without up-front payment, you really have lost that potential sale everyone blames piracy for, haven’t you? (Think about it.)

Dare I ask for the title of your (in your opinion) best published work? I’m always looking for a good book to read. 🙂

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

So, you seriously feel that my appreciation of your art should be completely disconnected from me paying for your art?

Yes. But as I have stated, I have been distributing much of my work for free for decades. But I am a believer in respecting the requests of the artists in regards to compensation. If I am not prepared to risk some money, I will simply not buy the art in question.

Did you have an inkling of whether or not Twilight was something you might enjoy?

“No, no guarantee is required or desired, as the current/future state is such that I have quick and easy access to any book I’d like to read. “

But we are discussing hypothetical scenarios. It is a given that the ability to do as you state currently exists.

“Ignoring the fact that you seem to have the customer/merchant relationship all screwed up”

If this was a customer/merchant relationship issue you would certainly be correct. But for this hypothetical discussion I am discussing the artist/client relationship. I know many artists who are less concerned with expanding their “base” as opposed to catering to specific niche. You may not be that niche that meets this hypothetical scenario. Okay.

“So if your book isn’t available without up-front payment, you really have lost that potential sale everyone blames piracy for, haven’t you? (Think about it.)”

I think we’re talking past each other a bit here. If I were concerned about the lost sale you would be correct. But to me specifically, that is not the primary concern. I’m more interested in having my art taken for what it is as I intended it upon it’s creation. Not altered and redistributed according to anthers sensibilities. As this was posed in the original post, it’s a question about the personal preferences of an artist. Not about economics. From an economic point of view, the binary choice offered has only one answer. Take the 100,000 downloads.

No offense meant. I prefer not to list my work at this time. I post here regularly and often take an unpopular view, so I prefer to maintain a certain amount of anonymity. Again – No offense intended. I am enjoying the dialog with you (and others), but I cannot take into account all anonymous readers.

In case it is not clear: To a degree I am playing devil’s advocate here. I recognize that the world is what the world is, and adopted the idea of free distribution long before it was considered necessary. To the point where half a decade ago I was laughed out of a room of 50 people during a panel discussion for arguing in favor of free digital distribution. But my reasons for adopting said distribution (personally) are because I want people to read my work, first and foremost. Others I know feel very differently, and I am trying to reflect that.

I may not be doing a good job of explaining what I am arguing and why. My wife is sick and I’m posting these between looking after her. Apologies.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I’m more interested in having my art taken for what it is as I intended it upon it’s creation.

It occurs to me that I have no idea what you’re talking about. How does downloading something versus paying for it *not* take your art for what it is intended upon it’s creation? I’m honestly confused. Since this seems to be the crux of your entire argument, I feel that it is important that I understand it.

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Sorry. I’m really not explaining my position well. I tend to work with art books, and particulars of presentation become very important to many people in this field. Paper stock, binding, dimensions, they all play a part in the overall experience of the work. Some feel that taking that endeavor and redistributing via a series of scans diminishes the intent and quality. Another example (though I am less well versed in this): I understand some musicians feel similarly when low quality duplications of their work are distributed.

Unauthorized re-distribution often requires a translation of the art from one form to another. Subsequently, downloading said material leaves the viewer with (potentially) a poor representation of the artists vision. If we concede that monetary factors are not the driving force for these artists, certainly passion for their art would be what remains. And that passion leads to a high degree of perfectionism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Further why artists should have 200 years of protection when people who spent billions in research and development only get 24?

Why should any artist be entitled to anything others do producing a derivative form of that art?

Why can’t artists be like normal people and get paid to do a job and have no other further claims pertaining to said work?

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I think we take for granted that which is easily obtained. As way of an example: In the early 90’s a friend and I were part of a publishing collective. He wanted to distribute these booklets he would create for free, by giving them to bookstores who would place them on the shelves with appropriate signage. The books gathered dust. I encouraged him to sell the books at a quarter per copy. The books did considerably better. Hardly a scientific study, just a sample of one experience that has shaped the perspective I am forwarding.

Anyway… Like I said: I think we (as a society) tend not to value something as greatly when we can have that thing anytime we want. In a worst case scenario, some potential customers will dismiss the offering as lesser quality if it is not priced competitively. So it’s not so much as “forcing” people to pay. Nobody is “forced” to do anything. It’s more a matter of using economics to reinforce perceived value.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Again what is the problem here, is anybody forcing you to price what you sell bellow what you want?

Answer: No.

If you truly believe people would not get something for free but prefer to pay for it, then sharing is not a problem at all, since people won’t value the free version and will seek out the paid one, at least according to your experimentation there that shaped your world views.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Also Paulo Coelho and a lot of other selling books and making 50K would disagree with you, they all put their stuff for free on the internet and gets attention some much so that many of them are millionaires.


Probably because price is not the only factor that helps build the value of something, there are other factors, that can be leverage to do it, without having this need to control distribution channels and price points.

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I made a point of explaining how my personal experience was just that a personal experience as opposed to any proof of a rule. The same goes for the exceptions you cite. For every one of them how many can we point to that failed to succeed?

Price is certainly only one of many factors. But it is one, and should not be casually dismissed.

“Answer: No.”

I disagree. Re-distribution of the art in question certainly alters the economic landscape. If it did not, there would be little cause for this hypothetical discussion.

Joe Publius (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I’d like to put myself out there and say that I understand what you’re trying to say, because I’ve heard the same anecdote before in the different and super niche market of Tabletop Role-Playing Games.

Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier for someone to write up and publish their own RPG materials (rules, supplements, zines, etc.). In the example I heard, someone wrote up a set of RPG rules and put the PDF up at first for free, then later for a nominal price (I want to say $1.00). He says that he had far more downloads after he priced it, and gave two reasons he though were behind the change, and why he thought it was a good thing for him:

1. He argued that the price reflected his personal value of the work. If he priced it for free, potential buyers may think it’s not worth a look, though they could be wrong, of course.
2. Since the buyer staked their money on the product, they have a greater incentive use the product. People actually playing the game mattered to to the author, and he felt that someone would be more likely to do that if they felt that they had to get some return on the purchase. If you don’t pay, you don’t feel bad about ignoring it.

ts says:

Well, if the music is good, that’s 100k people that will probably pay money to see them perform live… and will probably buy some merchandise like stickers, t-shirts, patches, etc.

I’m not going to lie… many of my favorite bands today, I discovered by “stealing” their music. And then I started going to all their shows when they were close by.. and more importantly, I tell all my friends when I discover good music. So by me stealing an album and telling my friends about it, that could generate an artist several hundred dollars in ticket sales that they would never have had a chance to make.

So when I hear about artists getting upset over a little piracy.. my first thought is if they’re that worried about it, the music must be terrible. 99% of the time, that has been true (IMO).

Joe (profile) says:

Re: Maybe not so dumb

To me, it screams of a band getting called out on their excuse for not ‘making it big.’ Rather than simply admit, “No, we’re not selling any music because we suck,” they opted to blame the boogeyman for it. Things would have been fine, except someone poked around and found out the boogeyman didn’t even know who these guys were.

Anonymous Coward says:

I agree with you on that one. I have actually downloaded albums that I in turn went out and PURCHASED. And take a percentage of these people that download the album, and then decide that they didn’t want it, so they just deleted it. At least they gave it a chance. Also, how about the crowd that downloaded it, and yes, they have possession of it for nothing, but would NEVER have purchased it in the first place? Is that lost revenue? Nope!

I agree with the premise that consumers are consuming here! Why are they fighting it when statistics from downloads can be generated for marketing information, demographic info, etc.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

AC's out of the woodworks like cocka-roaches

Did someone leave crumbs out and the lights off?

Anyway, it is a simple question. Would you rather fall into obscurity, or be famous?

Sell out stadiums, or have 50 drunks in a bar?

It is a no-brain-er.
I have seen many opening acts come through and stand outside the venues (Electric Factory, Tower theater, Spectrum, and the TLA)giving away CD’s. They realize that the lost sale, and in this case it is a true lost sale as the were giving away physical disks, was worth more than the CD’s were worth in advertising.
Case in point, I got a razor FOR FREE, and damn this thing is great. Really. Now I go and buy blades to refill the razor, and tell everyone I know about their great product.
Even if I stole the razor from a store, the end result is the same. One lost sale due to true theft (not imaginary theft the MPAA & RIAA cry about), but many more in sales of refills, and free advertising by word of mouth.

Give the music away for free, and if its good music, ppl will find ways to support you. Unless your music sucks, or are obvious assholes. PPL will go to shows and buy merch.
But that requires hard work. We cant have all that hard work going on now. Artists need to be able to sit at home to party, do drugs, and oh yeah be creative.

Case#2 Metallica Know how many of their CD’s I actually bought? Yeah none. Now… how many shows have I been to? Every one in Philly. They know that album sales cannot sustain the lavish lifestyle to which they have become accustomed to. A paltry 1.6 Million compared to 22.8 million from touring.

Case#3 The Grateful Dead
They never gave anything away for free now. Nuff said.

Anonymous Coward says:

I like to think of it this way.

“If you’re a street performer, would you rather have 100,000 people who didn’t drop money into your hat, or no one standing there at all?”

The truth is, having a crowd of people following you inevitably leads to them bringing more people, and even if your conversion rate to sales is low, it’s still better than nothing.
Keep in mind the crowd mentality is a powerful thing. You’ll either have a mass exodus as they get bored with you, or they’ll pile on the cash as they see the person next to them buying into your band.

Now, imagine if you took those 100,000 free listeners and went to them after the fact and asked for a donation for the service they received. Sure, you might get some of that money, but how many of them are going to come back for an encore?

Big picture here, people.

Daniel (profile) says:

How can you not consider this free publicity? If what you make is good and 1 person pirates it and plays it in their vehicle or with their friends then now 2+ people know about it. Eventually it’s going to be popular and you’ll have fans. This is where the concerts, posters, iTunes downloads, radio cuts, etc. come in…

If anyone wants to talk about stealing then lets talk about how much the record labels steal from the artists when they take those huge cuts.

JohnnyG (profile) says:

esteemed community… I lol’ed hard.

Little carriage maker is spitting into car windshields. Sorry little guy but we like driving cars and we’re not buying your labels of “wreckless drivers that drive over 30 mph” and “the horse carriage has a soul, car does not” arguments. Don’t you see that streisand effect is pushing your angry efforts in an opposite direction? Trolling is for fish…

btw, that pirate label – you do realize that real pirates did not like sharing things for free, right? They STOLE and SOLD tangible goods. Filesharers COPY and SHARE information.

RMB (profile) says:

I would kill for 100 000 downloads...

.. almost did.

To be ignored is death for the band.

Trust people and they deliver. Fans that really like you and find value in your art are ready to compensate and help you to create more.
It happen to us and with few thousand free downloads.





Anonymous Coward says:

i would definitely allow for people to download my music. these days it’s not about record sales anymore. before pirating music became popular, artists would tour to promote record sales. now, recorded music is used to promote live shows. only the loyal fans actually purchase the music these days. it’s time to embrace this new wave of sharing music.

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