I come on here maybe every couple of days and poke around for 5-10 minutes but this is the first time in a good while I've seen something going on that I felt the need to get involved in talking about.
Before I get into anything further, I will say this: My view on this topic has changed considerably in the past year or two since my band has moved increasingly up the worldwide ladder. I have to wonder sometimes how many people in these battles espousing certain viewpoints are in a band themselves, and not one playing strictly local gigs selling a demo for $5 to their friends and local fans. I'm talking bands that are at least somewhat dealing with the actual business side of the industry. Labels (whether signed or unsigned), management, trying to tour, paying thousands of dollars to make professional-grade albums, general upkeep fees of keeping a professional face on things, shipping merchandise worldwide, etc...
Things are hell these days. While it's true that digital retailers like iTunes and the rise of legal downloads have put a confident face back on the industry, it's diluting a lot of music consumers with this false sense of security that everything is going to be alright.
Side-stepping the "piracy vs. theft" arguments and all that - I maintain that the problem isn't so much the theft/piracy acts in and of themselves, but the mentality that has resulted from years of it. For years, I pirated myself a lot of music (I have since stopped), but at the time I still was building myself the biggest physical musical collection of legitimately purchased albums of anyone I know under the age of 30... so I didn't really see the problem, and moral arguments aside, there really was no problem with my specific case at that time. People using file sharing as a way to get a taste of things they may otherwise not know about is all well and good when you end up buying all the records you like and supporting all of those artists long term. However, I think people tend to overlook what a decade or more of these practices have done to the mentality of an entire generation. People my age (mid 20s) and younger have really never known a world without file sharing being readily available. They don't know what it was like to have to pay money for an album if you wanted to hear it, which, yes, occasionally meant buying a bad album, or having to do your homework before making a purchase - but the relationship between fan/product/band was a hundred times stronger in the pre-file sharing world. People saw the value in paying for music, and understood why they should. Kids under 25 today have basically never known that world as music consumers, and as a result feel no moral shame in downloading something illegally and having absolutely no intention of buying it physically. "That band I like six songs by? I'll download their eight album discography". "That song I just heard that I think I like this week? I'll download that album". "Oh, remember that song from five years ago? Let's download that and about fifteen other random songs I ironically like today". No shame. I have a friend who is a music teacher for kids approximately 14 years old and says it's sickening to see how little of a sense of value they place in music. It's disposable. Not a second thought for how it's made, who makes it, how much cost is involved in producing it, just in consuming it on the most convenient device possible.
The moral of this story is essentially I agree that the existence of downloading music is not inherently the problem depending on how you use it, but those cases, despite being far more prevalent amongst metal fans, are a far cry from the majority, or even a significant percentage, and after a dozen years of things being the way they are, the number of people who still believe in buying music in ANY form are criminally small.
Moving on, legal downloading. It is my belief that the acceptance of legal downloading, while an improvement over the loss of income by illegal downloading as well as promoting the idea of people paying for music, is just slightly stemming the inevitable tide. My brushes with the industry and many different people in it (labels, management, promoters, bands of all levels) has pretty much returned the same belief: Things have undoubtedly changed in the past ~10 years, and not for the better. The profit returns from legal downloads (approx 99 cents per song and about $8 for a whole album, varying case-to-case) don't begin to recoup the loses from sales compared to years ago. When shipping is deducted from the equation, my band makes $11.50 on each CD we sell through our own website, and about $9.50 from ones sold on third-party websites. We make, at best, something like 70 cents for each 99 cent download of a song, which when done for a 9-song album is about $6.30 per song - yes, almost half of what we make on a disc. Better than nothing? Certainly. But it doesn't really begin to put a dent in paying for studio costs, pressing costs, artwork costs, touring costs, production of other merchandise, etc. We are independent, which has its pros/cons - in this situation, I think it's a pro, because in the case of signed artists, they have labels and management taking a cut of these profits as well. Are they making more money? Sure, but it takes a LOT more money to keep those bands going. On to Spotify, which I admit, I use. Spotify's biggest lie is convincing 90% of its users that it pays the artists. Well, that's not a lie, however, they don't really mention that they pay the artists fractions of pennies per play and even the biggest artists in the world still see only comically small amounts from cumulative Spotify plays and payments. Actual statements from Spotify's owners have revealed paying artists between $0.006 and $0.0084 per play. Don't worry though, the people own the company are rich now. Rise in t-shirt prices? Directly related to loss of profits elsewhere. Rise in ticket prices? At least considerably related to loss of profits elsewhere. Rise of prevalence and price of VIP packages for virtually every band with management? Absolutely directly related to loss of profits elsewhere.
The bottom line is that cost of doing everything in this business and in life is either staying the same or going up while the profits seen from music sales (physical or digital) are decreasing. You can slice it any way you want to, but without a dramatic turn in ideology of consumers as well as some people in the industry itself, the future is not incredibly bright.
Last edited by Maiden33; 12-28-2013 at 08:06 PM.