Of Piracy and the State of Music

Hey all, Joseph here. I play drums for Louder Than Dirt and I know DK’s been telling you about the songs on our new album, but I just read something and feel the need to say something about it, especially considering some issues that have been brought into the light here in this blog.

I read an interview with @TheBlackKeys about their new album El Camino, and first let me say how excited I am about it, the single is great and these are two guys who have ground it out for a decade and suddenly have more exposure than they probably know what to do with. But they mentioned something I hadn’t heard and it’s all I can do to keep my hackles down.

John Fogerty, former lead of Creedence Clearwater Revival (maybe you’ve heard of them), released a song called The Old Man Down The Road, which has been played at any baseball game you’ve been to. Put me in, coach! You know the one. Anyway, he was sued by his former label for copyright infringement, because his single sounded too much like a Creedence song.

Now, if you haven’t caught it yet, here’s the funny part – HE WROTE BOTH SONGS.

I bring this up only to consider the new conundrum the music business, including its consumers, face these days. Piracy is the new buzzword and these giant labels want you to think if you download music that you’re stealing from the artist. That is, you’re taking money out of their pockets and food out of their mouths. But lets face it. You’re denying the label the money. These copyright lawsuits are rarely filed by the artists themselves. Much more often, it’s a label or a former manager – whoever OWNS the music, which is rarely the band or musician. They create their art while on the payroll of somebody else, which usually means that artwork belongs to the people signing the checks. And these new measures to “protect” the music really devalues the whole enterprise.

If John Fogerty can be accused of stealing from…himself, then what’s the real issue? Certainly not trying to protect somebody’s artwork. Certainly not protecting the sanctity of creation.

We can’t be afraid of the way technology changes the way we appreciate art. We must embrace change and find new ways to express our support and keep those who entertain us in a position to do so. And we as artists have to accept these changes and find ways to use it to our advantage. Piracy is something we have to live with. I won’t say I’m innocent, but I can say I haven’t profited from it. I spread the word of music and I go to shows and try and support bands in ways that actually help them and not a conglomerate of business men who have shareholders to please.

Support independent musicians. They work hard to let you in and do what makes you and them happy. Use sites like bandcamp.com to buy music and support your local record store. It’s like knowing where your food comes from – would you rather buy a tomato from a giant farm that uses hormones and pesticides and dyes and ships them before they’re ripe so they can travel thousands of miles without bruising? Or would you prefer a more organic tomato that’s traveled a hundred miles and arrived in the hands of the farmer that grew it?

That said, we have a new album coming soon and you’ll be able to find it online and the money we make will go back into our band, to make better records and help us get our music to ears that haven’t heard it. I promise you’ll enjoy it.

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