Dubstep Producer Bassnectar Talks Piracy, Leaks And Making It Easy For Your Fans To Support You

from the it's-CwF-and-RtB-all-over-again dept

California dubstep/bass artist Bassnectar has built a solid following over the past decade, culminating in appearances at major music festivals, including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and the Ultra Music Festival. Despite his loaded touring schedule, Bassnectar (a.k.a. Lorin Ashton) still keeps in touch with his fans (30K on Soundcloud, 550K on Facebook) via his regular Fan Bass Q&A feature.An anonymous fan recently asked a question that’s on the minds of artists all over the creative spectrum:

What do you think about the people that leak and download your music (or any music) without paying?

Bassnectar’s thoughtful (and amazing) response runs an entire page and is quotable all the way through. He begins by addressing the "leaked album" situation:

When we sent out promos of "Divergent Spectrum" we knew without a doubt it would get leaked. It is kind of an honor that enough people care, that they want to get it and share it as soon as possible. Instead of worrying about it, we just figured "Let’s let people decide what they want to do." If they want to support me, let’s make it easy for them to do so. We created a presale option, and added a stack of exclusive Bonus Material (loops, bits, outtakes, sketches, …kind of like the "Special Features" on a DVD) as a gift to everyone who did this, knowing it was an act of love and support for them to pre-order something they could just download for free.

There are two key points to this statement, points that other artists (or more often, their default representatives — label spokesmen, royalty collection agencies, etc. ) tend to ignore when discussing piracy. One: a leaked album is a sign of interest. Very few people will track down a leaked album from an artist they have no interest in. Two: make it easy for fans to support the artist, preferably directly. The more paranoid you are about leaked albums and "lost sales," the less likely it is that your music is easily found and purchased.

Bassnectar goes on from there, letting his fans (both paying and non-paying) know how thrilled he is with being Bassnectar:

For me, I am so incredibly grateful for everything in my life right now, i can’t really ask for more. We have sold out nearly every single show in the past year, and the legion of bass heads is growing every day. I am honored that people want to explore my music. I am honored that they want to share it with their friends. I am not worried about being supported, because I feel so much support each day, in so many different forms.

On principle though, I do think it is important for ALL ARTISTS to make it easy for people to support what they love. And it is important for those who love the art to decide how they can support art and artists, and allow it to continue.

There it is again: "make it easy for people to support what they love." Hitching your music to major label’s whims, proprietary systems, various rights agencies and digital rights management "tools" does nothing but make it harder for fans to support you, much less share the experience with others.

He also hammers home a point made over and over again here at Techdirt: spending time and energy attempting to prevent piracy will only leave you tired and frustrated. The music world doesn’t work the way it used to, relying on "top down" distribution. At the same time, he makes a genuine request: if you love an artist, find a way to support them.

In 2011, art and culture exist as DIGITAL MEDIA, and it is naive to think it will not be leaked or downloaded or shared or "stolen" repeatedly. It is just a fact of life. People need to decide for themselves if they want to steal or not. And if they *DO* then they can decide if and how to follow up with support. If you download leaked music, and you enjoy it, why not go buy an official copy? It seems fair. You are not obligated to do this, it is just a choice. Do you enjoy the artist? IF YOU ENJOY, THEN SUPPORT. If not, then simply carry on. It takes a LOT of time and energy for artists to create their craft, and even more time and energy for them to prepare a release, and to distribute it. You can support what you love in many ways, and in a sense you vote with your dollar.

It’s that simple. An artist’s best weapons against piracy aren’t takedown notices and legislation. The best weapon is still an honest connection with your fans (paying or not). Simply talking to them directly about you and your work does more for your bottom line than a million anti-piracy screeds. Even better, give them a reason to buy and as many ways to buy as possible.

I’ll leave you with this choice clip of Bassnectar in action, sporting the finest head of heavy metal hair to ever find itself in front of a tableful of electronic noisemakers:

Oh, and his discussion has spilled over onto his Facebook page as well, which is worth checking out.

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Comments on “Dubstep Producer Bassnectar Talks Piracy, Leaks And Making It Easy For Your Fans To Support You”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

but but but… piracy?!

It is becoming less rare to find an artist who “gets it”.
And this is a good thing.

That making yourself sick over “lost” sales, trying to lock it down, and bemoan your sad fate annoys your fans. Some of your fans will be at every show, have every shirt, every release. Some will discover you by seeing you shared, and if they enjoy it they will get what they can when they can. Fans don’t come in 1 size and shape, and do not have the same amounts to spend. If your more worried about extracting every possible cent from your fans – your doing it wrong.

Greevar (profile) says:

Captive audience

“There are two key points to this statement, points that other artists (or more often, their default representatives — label spokesmen, royalty collection agencies, etc. ) tend to ignore when discussing piracy. One: a leaked album is a sign of interest. Very few people will track down a leaked album from an artist they have no interest in. Two: make it easy for fans to support the artist, preferably directly. The more paranoid you are about leaked albums and “lost sales,” the less likely it is that your music is easily found and purchased.”

You’re still thinking they’re rational people Mike. They’re not. Cognitive dissonance has made them irrational. They’re indoctrinated with the belief that every copy is a product. They take this even further to believe that their product is property just the same as a toaster or a hammer. Now that they’ve drawn the very long connection between art and property, they feel justified in claiming that those that possess copies that didn’t generate revenue/profit is theft as surely as if you had thrown a brick through the window and took it off the shelf. They also are abused with the notion that less competition equals more revenue because everyone is buying from them, therefore they get more profit. And then there are those that don’t understand it because their jobs depends on them not understanding.

Anonymous Coward says:

Best invention ever!


Enough-Already is a DIY celebrity censorship tool for your TV, every time it detects some word you put in, it will mute the TV for 30 seconds, so if people don’t want to hear about Bono, Charlie Sheen, Metallica, Snooki, Kardasian and other boneheads this is ideal.

It is all open source too, so you can make money selling it to your friends that can’t make one themselves LoL

Maybe people could do one that would change the channel, or use music finger printing to censor bands they don’t like on radio and internet radio too.

This way we can have safe internet again without the punks from the MAFIAA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Basically, "stop whining and play."

I love, love, love this guy’s attitude. He is basically saying “Stop whining and play.” Know what? I’m not into dubstep or remix much, but I will tell you that I was impressed enough to check out more about Bassnectar due to this openness and reasoning (and gratitude, dammit! after all, people “give” performers money; enjoyment is not a tangible product).

THAT’s how you build a following, with positive vibes, not negativity.

Anonymous Coward says:

More Tim-isms. I would have expected this pile of Tardian logic from Marcus, but hey.

Basically, you asked a guy who’s life has been made by borrowing from others, and he is saying “you can’t keep stuff from being taken”. Sort of like asking a looter in a riot for tips on how to keep your store secure. They will just tell you they can break in anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 18th, 2011 @ 9:07am

thats nice, but why do people like you always have to pretend that someone said “unless ur on drugs you cant enjoy the music”

i’ve seen more dubstep sober than messed up, and they have their pros and cons, i was simply expressing how i felt about a show i saw, during which me and the other 30000 people at camp bisco were beyond messed up

khory (profile) says:


“spending time and energy attempting to prevent piracy will only leave you tired and frustrated.”

Also money. I’ve always wondered how much gets spent on anti-piracy. With all the lawyers, internet investigators, lobbying, and some of the outrageous salaries at the MPAA/RIAA (why do they get paid so much?) I wonder if it wouldn’t just be cheaper to worry less about the pirates and save your cash. All that expense doesn’t seem terribly effective anyway.

basshead35 says:


Lorin is one of the most intelligent, down-to-earth musician/producer out there, I think. He supports his fans just as much as they support him and his music. I love Bassnectar and always will. And to all you haters, go to one of his shows, you will be blown away! Tripping/rolling or sober, there is no way you won’t have a great time. I have seen him plenty of times, and each show just gets better! btw good article

Observer-A (user link) says:

Lorin is an awesome human being and his dedication to his craft and fans is admirable.
He has clearly adapted to the modern music industry and his fans are rabidly loyal because of it.

And if you have never seen him live you must!!!
I know people who aren’t big into electronic music that have had their minds blown wide open at Bassnectar shows.

And it isn’t just dubstep. He mixes in everything from metal, punk, funk, etc. One of the reasons he is so admired is because he does not acknowledge genre boundaries at all.

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