The music industry does like to insist that filesharing - aka illegal downloading - is killing the industry: that every one of the millions of music files downloaded each day counts as a "lost" sale, which if only it could somehow have been prevented would put stunning amounts of money into impoverished artists' hands. And, of course, music industry bosses' wallets. But we won't mention that.
read more about this fascinating chart as part of the refreshing reality check at:
Music is amazing. It's power to soothe, pleasure, define, inspire, communicate and motivate us can rival that of food, sex and creation stories. It may be the most beautiful thing we created as a species.
Coming at a time when some of our other habits and choices are killing off entire species of plants and animals, the Industry's assertion that Downloading is Killing Music is a chilling thought. Who among us would want to be responsible in any way for the death of this priceless gift of the ancestors?
Fortunately, it's not true.
Music is not dying. Music is thriving.
- There are more people playing more kinds of music now than there have ever been in the history of the planet.
- More new musical instruments have been created in the last 50 years than in the last 5 centuries.
- More money is being spent on music - on concert tickets, ring tones, music lessons, instruments, performing rights, MP3 players, soundtracks, recordings, band merchandise, etc - than ever before.
- More people are listening to more music more often than ever before- in their cars, on their MP3 players, on their computers, in the supermarket, restaurants, gyms, on elevators and in hotel lobbies as well as live
performances, CDs and yes, even vinyl.
- There are more ways to make money from music now than ever before, and more possibilities for unprecedented access to existing and potential audiences.
Reports of the Death of Music have been highly exaggerated.
Music is not dying. Music is fine. Music is actually doing quite well, thanks very much.
When the Industry formerly known as Music claims that downloading is killing music, what they are really saying is that CD sales are declining and they want you to think it is because of evil downloaders and their fellow travelers, who hate musicians but love their music so they steal it.
They are acknowledging, if only indirectly, that their sons and their daughters are beyond their command. They are not only criticizing something that they can't understand, they are lobbying governments around the world to make their lack of understanding law. Perhaps they believe that if they do, then the times will stop a'changing.
I have a different hypothesis.
I suggest that attempting to impose an industrial way of doing things on a virtual environment is doomed as doomed can be. If anything is dying here, it's a business model so far past its' stale date that it's now a bio-hazard.
An astonishing, unbelievable universe of music. Music you never dreamed of and music you barely remember, from the ancient of days all the way to once upon a time called right now.
It's not hard to find some of the titles by some of the Major Artists that the Industry is so upset about but in my Time among the Pirates, these tracks and these Artists, that are so clearly Owned, are found on a minority of sites and are actually a minority interest.
Just like all the other music out there on all those sites.
What's a minority interest in this case?
Several dozen live concerts by 10 Years After. Thai surf bands from the sixties. English Folk fundamentalists from 40s and 50s. Bulgarian techno. Old dub plates. Old Egyptian pop music. Classic polka collections. Pre-WW2 radio shows. Military music. Music from merry-go-rounds and ferris wheels.
Ethnographic recordings of songs and languages from around the world. Classic books in an audio format. Speeches by Martin Luther King and Gandhi. Mashups. The newest tracks by bands so cool nobody you know has even heard of them yet.
Some of it has "fallen out of copyright" and into "the public domain" - ie- even the extreme extensions of the statutes of limitations in the Bono act have run out. Some of it has been recorded and uploaded with both the permission and even encouragement of the musicians involved. (http://www.archive.org/index.php)
The list, like the beat, goes on. And on. And on.
Most of it has two things in common.
1) It's free- yours for the time it takes you to download it and to type a quick thanks to the person who's made it available, and...
2) You couldn't buy it if you wanted to- it may never have been for sale, or it's been out of print for years. Maybe it never made it to the country you live in. Maybe only a few hundred copies were ever made.
What it adds up to is a global archive of sound- an imperfect history of recorded music since the dawn of recording to tomorrow morning. It's a strange and beautiful virtual library of music that only exists online.
Volunteers have put countless hours into digitizing music that the Industry was never interested in, or lost interest in and/or won't make available because their business model fails at 'niche level'. Many pay the storage costs for their collections each month out of their own pocket. Anyone who finds music they feel they own and don't want to share on one of these sites has only to ask and it disappears.
There's been no plan, no central body, no organizing meetings and no money has changed hands. It's chaos, in the true sense of that word- a complex open system of music available to anyone with access to the internet.
Thanks to these music freaks and geeks, anyone who is curious can hear the sound of the world singing.