Piracy and the Independent Musician

45590_422879321602_4293922_nIt has been pointed out to me that 6 years ago (on the date 09/09/09), I was producing The 9 Album, a project to record an album of 9 songs, starting at 9am, and having it available to buy as a download by 9pm.  This is something I’m still very proud of acheiving, along with the help of Bert, Satch, Ellis (help with recording) and Gary (took 1000 photos and produced the album artwork on the same day [he took 999 and then an extra one because it needed to be square for the artwork to fit]).

This prompted me to see what, if anything, remains of the project online, so off I went to Google where I found the following…

MySpace – It was 2009 after all, so the album was placed on MySpace and is still there

EBay Listing – I saw this and thought “Hmm that’s funny, they’re listing it as Brand New, despite the album never being on general release physically”, but it makes sense when you see…

Pirated CDR copy available to buy – If you follow that link you’ll see the following text… “This product is manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media.“.  Basically, they’ll burn the CD from the MP3s and sell the CD as “Brand New”, for what works out at around £23! Firstly, that’s far too high a price! Secondly, assuming they sell any, I will receive precisely ZERO royalties for this work. Thirdly, all profits made from sales of this album were donated to charities that supported the 999 emergency services, and for pirates like this to profiteer from it is particularly galling.

To be honest I doubt that many people are interested in paying over the odds for a CD they’ve never heard of, but the wider implication is that many many artists are being totally screwed over in this way.

I doubt there’s a huge amount I can do about it, and whether it’s worth my time trying is debatable, but I guess my point is that I was a little naive to the level of piracy that goes on in this “music business”. The fact is that it’s easy to make illegal copies of any musical work created and the low-life scum that do it don’t care who the artist is. Whether the artist is Paul McCartney, or Paul from Melksham who’s struggling to scrape by on the handful of sales he makes at each gig, I doubt it even crosses their mind. What can be done about it is a tricky question, but we need to stop burying our heads and pretending that internet piracy is only affecting those artists who are big enough that it “doesn’t matter”.

 

A few of the songs on The 9 Album have been reproduced on Half Live, which you can buy legitimately from iTunes, Amazon and so on, but preferably from Bandcamp (for much less than £23!) where the majority of the sales price is passed on to the artist.

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