Def Leppard Claims Music Piracy Is Bringing Younger Audiences To Its Concerts

from the rock-for-all-the-ages dept

The last time we checked in with 80’s rock band Def Leppard, the band was busy “forging” its own songs as a way to release its own back catalog without having its label cash in off of it. So bad was the relationship with Universal Music, apparently, that re-recording all of that music was the better option compared with having to deal with the label. So, one might wonder how the band views illicit music downloads then, amidst its anger at its label for not paying them properly.

Well, it turns out that Def Leppard thinks music piracy is making them a killing in concert revenue.

In an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell has been describing why he believes piracy has its upsides, particularly for enduring bands that are still trying to broaden their horizons.

“The way the band works is quite extraordinary. In recent years, we’ve been really fortunate that we’ve seen this new surge in our popularity. For the most part, that’s fueled by younger people coming to the shows,” Campbell said. “We’ve been seeing it for the last 10, 12 or 15 years, you’d notice younger kids in the audience, but especially in the last couple of years, it’s grown exponentially. I really do believe that this is the upside of music piracy.”

What’s useful about Def Leppard’s stance on this is that the band cuts around all of the usual pushback from copyright defenders. The band is not “just a startup with nothing to lose from piracy”; they’re a household name. The band is also not “simply a bunch of has-beens trying to eek out a few more years of meager revenue”; their popularity is surging. Campbell’s stance is also not simply one-sided in the belief that younger fans getting free music brings in the concert revenue. He also believes these new, young fans make the bands music better.

“There’s a whole new energy around Leppard, in fact. I think we’re playing better than we ever have. Which you’d like to think anyway. They always say that musicians, unlike athletes, you’re supposed to get better. I’m not sure that anyone other than the band really notices, but I notice it and I know that the other guys do too. When I play ‘Rock of Ages’ for the 3,000,000 time, it’s not the song that excites me, it’s the energy from the audience. That’s what really lifts our performance. When you’ve got a more youthful audience coming to your shows, it only goes in one direction,” he concludes.

This is the part of music obtained freely that never gets mentioned: the multiplier effect it has on a bands relevance and longevity. This isn’t to say that such a model works for every band in every instance, but it’s refreshing to see an artist step back and try to get the full picture of what’s really going on here. It would be quite easy for someone like Campbell to see the young faces in his audience and never give a second thought to how those younger fans got to a Def Leppard concert. By taking an intelligent look at that question, however, Campbell has reached a place where he’s found a friend where he might have seen an enemy.

The band is also very active on YouTube, even as the site has recently become a chief target of the music industry as a source of evil, evil piracy.

One only has to visit Def Leppard’s official YouTube channel to see that despite being born in the late fifties and early sixties, the band are still regularly posting new content to keep fans up to date. So, given the consumption habits of young people these days, YouTube seems a more likely driver of new fans than torrents, for example.

The band’s embrace of the internet as a tool for generating interest and revenue isn’t merely passive, in other words. The band that made its name decades ago is using today’s tools to actively cultivate a new audience, which then shows up at the concerts, bringing in ticket revenue and revenue from merchandise. All, again, as the band is re-energized for its own on-stage performances. It’s difficult to find the downside for the band in any of this, perhaps because one does not exist.

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Comments on “Def Leppard Claims Music Piracy Is Bringing Younger Audiences To Its Concerts”

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30 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

Cue the usual critics and “but, exception” comments.

In any case, I wouldn’t have thrown tons of money towards many artists/movies/content if it wasn’t for piracy. And it’s the same for a good portion of the people I know, specially the younger ones. This isn’t about evidence that file sharing also generates revenue even if not via digital sales, it’s an established fact.

MyNameHere (profile) says:

Re: Re:

HI, I’ll take you up on that.

Let’s look at things. Def Leppard has been stuck on the “rock oldies” type tours are pretty much in a rut. They changed that by (shock) actually releasing a new album in 2016. Previous to that, all of the touring had been on tours with other classic rock acts, and their short Vegas residency did nothing to take them away from that.

The new album didn’t do amazing well, but since classic rock acts generally don’t release a lot of new music, it got good airplay on classic rock and modern rock stations, and got the band a lot more exposure than doing another mouldy oldies tour would.

With a new album, they generally get access to the “current” market rather than those who remember their 0s heyday only. So they are exposed to a wider audience through radio airplay and such, as boom, a bigger, wider, and somewhat younger audience.

Piracy is an “effect”, not a cause. People are buying and / or downloading the album because they are first exposed to it somewhere else. The download or the purchase isn’t step 1.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, the numbers on listening to music seems to be following the sales-tendencies in volume. Thus, the piracy doesn’t seem to be cutting revenues on digital media more than physical media (Which is also why piracy is used as a tool for getting political backwind. Todays IFPI is targeting “the value gap”, yesteryear it was “can’t compete with free”. Piracy is a common rallying cry for covering the industrys massive internal disagreements on how revenues should be split. A bigger revenue means the losers take is larger etc. Before the internal revenue split issues are truely sussed out, I would be reluctant to trust that the issue is truely piracy as much as a bad leverage situation against Alphabet in negotiations).

Also of note is that surveys with an iteration of the question: “Which of the following do you use most when listening to music?”, seems to point towards an equal split between streaming and old-school models, with a heavy move towards streaming and a particular bias based on age. If anything, streaming is biased against “rock oldies” given the way recommandations work in streaming. Also they recieved a far higher praise and more airtime in radio from their 2008 record, which sold better and caused their tours to do pretty well.

While piracy is a tool, the cause of it is ambiguous and the effects speculative. While Def Lepards frontsinger use piracy as a positive, there is no reason to assume that pirating has much of an effect on the total size of the cake. Thereby I would also argue that the “piracy kills music” argument is a ridiculous distraction.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You are assuming that the labels are only concerned with piracy, which they are not, they are much more concerned about the self publishing musician who make money without giving them the major share of any profits made, and who also take legal sales away from label owned music.

Piracy is simply the war cry they are using in an attempt to gain control over the Internet. When you whole business is based on making money by controlling the works of others, anything that allows those others to escape your control has to be destroyed, or brought under your control.

MyNameHere says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think it’s better to say that DL already has a huge store of cake, so the loss of a little cake here and there no longer bothers them.

As the other AC said they have been in a pretty profitable rut. The oldies tours are very profitable, with low expectations, low requirements such as shared staging, crews, and the like, and solid profits.

There is a point for a band like this that they can go out on a short, carefully planned tour, do 20 or 30 dates over a summer, and each member of the band walks away with a couple of million for the effort.

The band doesn’t really care at this point about piracy. They are stuffed full of cake already and haven’t a care.

Bruce C. says:

Re: Re:

Well one big advantage DL has is freedom from their record label. In fact in the current market, it’s probably better for a band to manage their own distribution online and hire other services (CD and merch fulfillment, advertising) via service contracts.

We can’t expect bands to do it on their own, so they still need to hire an agent, but the agent now has choices like Amazon, Google and China to bypass the record labels. In the old days the labels were a one-stop shop for such services but they exploited their customers (bands) by taking over the financial and IP sides of things as well without adequate compensation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Didn’t the Grateful Dead figure this out decades ago…

I think so. While record companies try to sell bands on the idea of touring (often at their own expense) to "promote the record", the Grateful Dead figured out that it should be the other way around. The records should promote the tours. Of course, touring is a lot more work than a lot performers are interested in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Damon Krukowski from Galaxie 500 just released a podcast that touches on this too: https://www.radiotopia.fm/podcasts/showcase

His point is that there’s a difference between performance art (captured in a single recording) and songs/music, which survive across multiple performances.

They both have their place, but it’s the music that draws a lasting crowd — music people can play/sing themselves and which will change from concert to concert.

We used to call this folk music, but in the digital age, it seems to have come back again in a different form. People are appropriating music to fit a narrative, and there’s such a large selection of pre-recorded performance art out there, that context is used as a means of expression.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I like the fascinating conundrum:

The more things change, the more they stay the same and conversion towards the mean comes to mind.

Recently I heard the argument that historically the works of art was financed by the rich. The last century has been an anomaly and the internet funding is merely a return to the normal.

More performances being more valuable than a captured performance is logical and points towards another case of the return to normal.

Historically the changes in the last century was made for protection of artists against censorship, but today it protects rentseeking from companies trading the rights. As with financial services, the value is in the arbitrage rather than creating, which historically is a bad sign.

Anonymous Coward says:

Def Leppard really IS a rock Icon. I grew up on classic rock back in the 70’s and 80’s when we had quality music from bands like Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon, Simple Minds, Boston, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.

But, when it comes to copyright, it’s pathetic bands like Metallica that continues to spew all kinds of racism toward torrent downloaders that really defy all logic.

The entertainment industry doesn’t realize that it’s because of piracy that draws more fans to their movies, television and music. For me, I download all kinds of movies, television shows and music and if the content I’m downloading is good, then I’ll go out and buy it.

This is the kind of logic that the MPAA and the RIAA continue to ignore. Either that, or its because they love beating the old “copyright piracy” war drums in an attempt to shout above the crowd.

Life says:

Re: Re:

“The entertainment industry doesn’t realize that it’s because of piracy that draws more fans”
meh. They know it helps.

can’t speak to the MPAA, I never worked in MOVIES.

The RIAA’s left hand don’t know what the right hand does. You could be under orders of the band promoting and the riaa is completely clueless to that contract.

EACH band is different.
EACH label is different.
You could have ASCAP/BMI rights.
You could have WORD OF MOUTH rights.
You could have no rights.
You could have rights from attending a show where the musician TOLD you you have rights. “Go steal my album”

You could have “specific” rights. like Broadcast Spectrum all day, but don’t rip and publish to the WEB, or vice versa.

Q: How does it all work out?
A: It doesn’t when there’s friendly fire.

You have to understand copyright is the leverage to get paid. Labels expend much funds on Promotional videos, and media. They gonna do it so they can EAT. if it looks like it’s not worth their time, they’re going to find another target to get paid. Lets get over the LIE they don’t understand that piracy is not just theft (like they claim) but PIRACY is also unauthorized underground PROMOTIONS which can HELP them, if they dummy up.

At the end of the day if everyone stole DL’s albums, they wouldn’t sell many. So someone is buying and so the problem isn’t as bad as it’s being made out to be.

That’s all I got.

Anonymous Coward says:

As I’m sure any Dio fan will tell you Vivian Campbell is a douche. He bad mouthed Dio when he was still alive and is now trying to cash in on him after his death. What he’s saying in this respect is admirable, but it would have been better coming from a founding member than him.

If they are still finding success, that’s great in this day and age, but personally I believe the best Leppard music was with the original 2 guitarists – Pete Willis and Steve Clark. Since Willis left they became a pop band with guitars.

Life says:

Re: Re:

Badmouthing isn’t being a douche, You don’t know being a douche is when it comes to bands. Out of the 3000 bands I had action with, I know both sides of band members that literally want to KILL each other over issues, beyond douche, all the way to psychopath. .

The truth here is you loved the original nucleus an that is where your resentment stems from (the break up of that nucleus), it’s okay, go listen to the old stuff, crank it up proudly and shut **** up.

If you can’t accept the current band, then don’t go.
I find the older musicians are, the better they get. Only need look at Frampton for a cool example. A problem that your going to find is many older musicians are not as crazy as they were in their young years, the survivors aren’t stumbling around drugged up or drunk anymore–those people DIED if you haven’t noticed..

I almost died from it too. But that’s another story for another day. Perhaps if I can leave you with one tip for surviving with bands on the road for years.

Vape instead of Combust
Water instead of Alcohol
More FAT, LESS Sugar
eat most everything either raw or steamed (learn to steam things)

Stick to that and you will be the one dialing 911, and seeking the Cayan Power/nitrostat bottle for the strokes and heart attacks trust me.

I’d love to bad mouth a few bands myself, but what’s the point;

I would be the douche.

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