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, 15 May 2012 @ 12:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    and this only hurts artists. It gives them fewer content distribution choices.

    IP extremists take away broadcasting and cable as a promotional choice through wrongfully granted government established broadcasting and cableco monopolies. On top of that they take away their ability to get their music heard in most restaurants because many restaurants are unable to pay parasitic third party collection societies fees and are afraid to host independent performers, who play independent music, because they still could get threatened with very expensive lawsuits and sued thanks to a very one sided penalty structure.

    Our system is so bad that bakeries are afraid to allow children to draw custom pictures on their birthday cakes because they may draw Spongebob which is infringement and could get the bakeries sued.

    and they are making every effort to turn the Internet into the same plutocracy that they have managed to turn everything outside the Internet into (ie: by shutting down Megaupload), a system where content must go through an exploitative monopolist gatekeeper to get distributed, a gatekeeper that takes the IP privileges away from artist and exploits both the artists and the public. It's extortion, the government has wrongfully granted them monopoly privileges over information distribution, if content creators want their content distributed, they must sacrifice their IP privileges, or else face not getting their content distributed and hence failing.

    How is this giving artists a choice? It's not. It's restricting their choices.

    I am all for giving artists more choices. Stop putting restrictions on, and wrongfully taking down, service providers, like Megauploads so that these service providers can provide artists with more and better distribution options and features.

    Abolish government established broadcasting and cableco monopolies so that artists can get their content distributed over these channels on a more level playing field.

    Abolish IP's one sided penalty structure so that collection societies that attempt to prevent restaurants and other venues from hosting independent performers without paying them a fee quickly get severely fined on summary judgement with fines far exceeding infringement damages.

    This will give artists more choices so that they can better distribute their content without going through a monopolist gatekeeper and giving up their copy protection privileges.

    IP extremists do not want to give artists more choices, they only want to restrict their choices, which, outside the Internet, is what they have managed to do.

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