Counting Crows Distributes Songs And More Via BitTorrent

from the good-for-them dept

Five years ago, we wrote about a fascinating writeup by the keyboard player for the band The Counting Crows, in which he discussed his views on piracy and the music industry. While we didn't fully agree with what he was saying, his viewpoint was definitely worth reading. He was worried about the industry collapsing, but at the same time admitted that the band really made their money on live shows anyway, so getting more music out to the world helped increase ticket sales. He was a proponent of DRM however, and blamed the industry for putting out CDs that had no DRM as being part of the downfall of music sales, and later claimed that it was a three way struggle between the music industry, the tech industry and consumers over how the music industry of the future would be shaped. Of course, that seemed a little extreme to us. You can craft solutions that really benefit everyone, by using the technology to provide a better solution for consumers that makes them more willing to pay the artists.

And, in fact, it appears that The Counting Crows may be coming around to that view themselves. The band -- no longer signed to a major label -- released an album a few weeks ago, but also quickly followed it up by releasing a bunch of songs, liner notes and artwork for free via BitTorrent which you can find here. The band's manager, Aaron Ray, seems to recognize the importance of using free to connect with a larger audience. According to Dave Thier's article at Forbes:
For him, The Counting Crows is an ideal band for this project — they have massive name recognition and a well-known live show, but they aren’t seen as relevant in 2012. The deal gives old fans a low-barrier way to reconnect with the music, and BitTorrent’s massive install base pushes them farther into markets where record labels have little to no penetration, like Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

“The recorded music business is shrinking like crazy,” Ray says. “Recorded music is basically free – why are we beating around the bush? Counting Crows came off their label and embraced this new theology. It’s the best way. BitTorrent has the most installs, people come there for a reason. We need to be where the people are.”
What's unclear from the article is if they're also using the free promotion to drive people to buy other things (the album, live tickets, merch, etc.). It's always great to see bands embracing what the tech enables, but I definitely would like to see it paired closely with smart business models, rather than just "give it away and pray" that it helps the existing business model.

Still, in the meantime, we're being told across the globe that the only purpose for BitTorrent is "piracy," even as we see more and more artists using it to their advantage. That seems like a pretty big disconnect.

Filed Under: counting crows, drm, free


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2012 @ 6:05pm

    Re: Re: But, but ... Piracy!

    Yet you want to stop perfectly legal services like Megaupload, that police their content, from existing and offering mostly legal content and then you complain when people turn to infringement and infringing sources for content.

    What are your sources to show that Megaupload, for example, hosted mostly infringing content? You have none.

    Yes, torrents do host a larger percentage of infringing content, but people will share a whole lot of perfectly legal content. but when the means to share legal content is banned for no good reason (more) people will turn to, and create, much more difficult to regulate methods of sharing content, those methods will become more efficient and have a larger support base and become more effective at distributing content without getting infringing users in trouble, and those methods will invariably have more infringing content. When people are denied access to reasonably priced content due to an artificial disruption in the content distribution channels more people will be willing to contribute more of their effort and resources towards circumventing the disruption in ways that are more difficult for governments to regulate.

    A problem with decentralized sources of information (and this might be addressed in the future) is that they don't allow the efficient promotion of legal, valuable, and relevant content (ie: content that search engines can rate the value and relevance of based on user input and remove infringing content). But when services that allow artists to better freely promote their work and consumers to freely (or more affordably) download it (legally) are terminated, like megaupload, the demand for content (at a cheaper price) doesn't disappear despite an artificial reduction in supply and people will find alternative methods to distribute content, methods that are more difficult for the government to regulate and hence will have more infringing content.

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