Piracy As A Musician

As a musician, I’m often asked what my stance on piracy is. Firstly you have to understand a few key concepts, one of which is “DRM” or Digital Rights Management – this is a method of ‘content control’ which an artist or producer can use to restrict their work so that it is limited and cannot theoretically be copied. These DRM’ed versions of tracks do not help content producers protect their rights at all, and hinder the efforts of people that have actually purchased their product.

1980s Anti Piracy Campaign

1980s Anti Piracy Campaign

See, if I owned a vinyl, I could copy it to tape or CD freely, or pass it to a friend to listen to. With DRM content, it is only hurting the end consumer who actually purchases the product as they cannot listen to the music they own unrestricted.

The real kicker for me with DRM is a simple one. If it can be played, it can be broken. It only takes a little while before an expert coder or bedroom hacker to find a method to break it. All the technology that makes DRM is written by humans, so can be beaten, by humans.

Second, the thing about music, is it is different to any other medium, you need to get your music played and for people to like it so that fans want to buy your tracks to support you to make more. That’s one reason I use Bandcamp, they share most of my philosophies. So the more people that listen to your music and like it, the more likely you are to find a fan, who will actually buy or donate to you.

Third, there is no money in streaming. Pandora, Spotify etc. The royalties for a million plays on Spotify is about $0.09, where as a fan sale could be $3.

Fourth, Free Distribution. People often forget, that data is an expensive thing to send, store and process. If people like your stuff and are willing to share their bandwidth to introduce other people to it, and increase your listening audience, that should be the goal.

Me, as StainScar Productions, while I don’t fully support piracy, I realise that for the above reasons, it is impossible for me to control my content fully once it has been released, and I’m happy with that. I don’t restrict my MP3 downloads, because you could just rip them from Bandcamp or Soundcloud easy as pie. I have the FLACs of my paid content on Bandcamp and my free content on my servers.

One dedicated fan, regardless of how they have found your music or video is worth their weight in gold, as they will want to support you and help you out.


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