Dan Bull Talks About Trying To Reach The Charts While Giving Away His Music
from the sharing-is-caring dept
What are you hoping to accomplish/show with "Sharing is Caring"?
I want to show that it's possible for musicians to achieve whatever they set their mind on without the need for the protection / interference of record labels and their lobbyists. The BPI, who already helped to force the Digital Economy Act through Parliament during the scrutiny-free wash-up week, are now trying to have The Pirate Bay censored in the United Kingdom. This is a website that does not host any copyrighted material but merely connects people who want to share their own files. It's also a site that does more for unsigned musicians like myself than the BPI ever have. Of course, on top of this, it'll be a great personal achievement and hopefully give a boost to my musical career.
What is your opinion on the music charts?
As a young lad I used to listen avidly to the charts every Sunday, and I'd promptly go to the record store and buy the top hits the next day. The charts is a powerful force in influencing young people's musical purchases. It's a shame, because the charts are no mark of musicianship or long-term listenability - merely whatever has managed to sell the biggest quantity of copies that week. It's odd that weekly sales is considered the most important measure by which we judge the success of a piece of music.
What do you think the successful music careers of the future will look like?
The long tail of the music business is going to get longer and fatter. Many more unsigned and niche musicians will find their audiences and be able to support themselves thanks to the way the internet allows them to find a sizeable audience around the globe. The top 1% of musicians might see a dip in sales - perhaps they'll only be millionaires rather than multi-millionaires. Why is this such a problem?
What's the reaction to "Sharing is Caring" been so far?
The feedback has been great. People like the idea behind the campaign, and equally importantly they're enjoying the song. There have been detractors too - someone said "you're not getting a free song into the charts, you're selling it. Every other song in the charts is available for free somewhere online." The difference is that I have published the free download myself and am encouraging people to download it - in hope that it'll lead to more engagement later. Major label artists who do this (or are even allowed to do this) are few and far between.
I'm not sure how well the single will do in the "official" charts - whatever "official" is supposed to mean - but it's currently swamping the Amazon hip-hop charts with half of the top selling MP3s being my songs. One of the b-sides is also at number one in the reggae charts - three places above Bob Marley, despite the release of the new documentary film about him.
I don't see why creators need special legal protections more than anyone else in society. I was asked yesterday "well what if someone uploaded all your music and claimed it was by them - wouldn't you want it taken down?". Well, yes I would want it taken down, but I don't think there needs to be a law enforcing that to happen. It just means that the person was behaving like a dick and I would make that fact known. It's too difficult to draw a line between "fair use" and "unfair use", I believe we'd be better off giving everyone the benefit of the doubt in order to stop mashups and parodies being caught in the crossfire.
Is there still a role for pop stars, or is that going away?
People will always love a pop star to read about and gossip about. They won't go away any time soon, but as I said before - people are listening to a lot more music. You used to buy a new record every couple of weeks perhaps and not listen to much else. With the advent of services like Spotify, a person might spread their listening time over 50 artists rather than 5. This is probably a far bigger reason than piracy as to why the sales of the biggest artists might be reducing. Listening habits have changed and you can't legislate against that.
How important have tools like YouTube (and Megaupload?) been to you in getting your music out?
They've been absolutely vital. YouTube is how most of my listeners discover me. I also became a YouTube partner last year which means I can earn money from streams of videos I've uploaded. It's a great place to discover and collaborate with other artists.
The Megaupload takedown damaged my musical career. Supposedly done in the interests of artists like me, what it actually did was turn all the links to free downloads of music, on blogs, review sites etc, into deadlinks. Why was this allowed to happen? I'd love to see Megaupload's prosecutors explain to me personally how their actions are helping artists such as me.
Thanks to Dan for taking the time to chat.