Download Paranoia

Sony Tentacles

I’ve rattled-on about downloading many times on Bzangy. Basically, downloading stuff off the net is the only way I get to hear new music.

I’ve given up on radio and TV. Very occasionally, a good band will pop up on 120 Minutes but you have to sit through an awful lot of corporate shite for the random gem. Without the net, I’d be buggered.

Bear in mind that any music I hear via downloading, I buy on CD. I don’t steal artists’ work. For me, the net is a replacement for radio, not a tool for theft.

Currenly I own around 1800 CDs and 1100 vinyl records. I don’t buy downloads as buying the CD is still cheaper and better quality.

Recently, this happened:

The British Phonographic Industry claimed what it is calling a landmark victory against file sharers in the United Kingdom. As of Friday, it had successfully managed to prosecute two individuals for uploading digital music files to peer-to-peer file sharing networks for distribution.

Something unsettled me when I heard this. It wasn’t simply that the BPI now seems to be modelling itself on the pro-spyware, pro-netcrime RIAA. There was something…more.

(Bear with me…)

Who owns and therefore controls the mass media? It basically boils down to a few megacorps, most of them run by slimy Tories like Rupert Murdoch. If you want to watch Sky/Fox TV, read The Times or even have a MySpace profile, you’re putting money into Rupert Murdoch’s pocket. You have no choice: if another company comes along and starts to look popular, it’ll just get bought by Murdoch or another megacorp. The big fish eat the little fish. That’s the truth of capitalism: the propaganda is CONSUMER CHOICE but the reality is no choice whatsoever. Businesses tend toward oligopoly and, if they can get away with it, monopoly.

Companies also tend towards vertical integration. For example, you record your bangin’ new tune on your Sony laptop, perhaps edit the masters with Sony Sound Forge. Then you release your record on Sony Records, people buy your CD and listen to it on their Sony CD player or on their Sony-spyware infected Vaio PCs. That’s a lot of pies Sony have got their sticky fingers in. Just to make sure you don’t leave their profit-heavy playpen, Sony even bribe radio to ensure airplay for their artists. After all, they don’t want you to listen to other labels’ artists, do they? Where’s the profit in them for that?

The grand illusion we’re presented with is consumer choice, a world of infinite possibilities. The reality is a handful of corporations pumping out bland crap. Whether it’s 800-channels of televisual sludge or this month’s new airbrushed “dangerous” rock band, it’s pre-chewed, pre-hyped, niche-marketed shite.

But there’s an alternative to the treadmill of major label bollocks: the net.

On the net, it doesn’t matter whether you have a record deal or not. It doesn’t matter if you have a swanky website or not. All that matters is the music. If you’ve got popular songs, word will eventually get around. Think about recent critical successes like The Arctic Monkeys or The Arcade Fire. If major labels had their way, you would never have heard of those artists.

What we have on the net is, for the first time in pop history, a level playing field.

And that’s why stooges of the major corps like the RIAA and BPI hate the net so much. Not because of internet piracy but because people are buying music from smaller labels or, even worse, direct from the artist.

We’re straying out of the path the major corps want us to follow, we’re searching out new music without their permission. They want to limit what we listen to from the cradle to the grave, they want to be the arbiters of our taste, with their tame radio, tame TV and even tamer music press.

This is why the major labels hate the internet – it directly challenges their stranglehold on music.

Every great new artist that I download, I support by buying their CD. I’d say 90% of those artists are own their own or an independent label. The money I’ve spent on CDs has gone up, not dropped! But if it’s mostly going to non-major labels…

To the big players, it’s all about market share. When an indie label gets into the top ten in the UK, I know for a fact the majors hate it. They have meetings and shout very loudly at each other instead of doing the obvious and sacking their A&R departments.

The major labels don’t want any of your money going to their competitors. They will use their cartel bullyboys, the RIAA and BPI, to shut-down your access to any non-major label music. They pretend to be fighting for their artists when in fact they’re fighting only for their own profits.

If anyone is swapping any of my music online, I officially thank you. I take that as being the second greatest compliment an artist can get. The first is if you bought one of my CDs, of course! 😀

But what artist would truly rather not have their music heard? Who becomes a musician simply for money? There are far easier ways to make money. We make music because we want it to be heard, we want to connect. Finally, with the net, we have the chance to transcend limitations of genre, funding and access.

If the majors succeed in shutting down net downloading, it’ll be to the detriment of every musician alive.