Some days it baffles me that this whole ‘to share or not to share’ debate is still going on in the music industry. Needlesstosay, the whole debacle is utterly past the point of no return. It’s adapt-or-die-trying time, and there is no way to go back and unlearn what our world has come to know as sharing. That point aside, let’s open our eyes to what is really going on.
First and foremost you should understand that when it comes to this issue, we are not talking about top billboard artists. Those guys are not significantly effected by sharing. Their world tours, energy drinks, t-shirts and sponsorships have all ready put their potential children through college many times over (short of the occasional “TLC dilemma”, but that’s a blog for another generation). Those of us being effected, are the smaller artists. We are the majority of the music industry, and we are the artists that should be of concern. Billboard artists are all ready on every radio station once an hour. You see their videos on the pseudo-hip television channels morning and night time. You’ve heard their new music jammed through your ears ten folds before you ever decide to buy their albums. The rest of us don’t have that sort of corporate brain placement to sustain us. I can tell you personally that MTV is not taking my calls, and I have yet to find any distribution company willing to market my ‘Hangover by McDonough’ perfume. We smaller artists can merely put our music up for free streaming, in the hopes that the listener has reason to seek us out. We have availability, not exposure.
The majority of our exposure is still through the people. Word of mouth is our advertisement, our radio stations, our MTV, our VH1. Ninety-nine percent of the time you are going to hear about us through a friend (real or virtual), or through a blog you trust that is willing to risk criminality to land us on a few new ipods. We don’t aim to compete with the top 40′s. We can’t if we wanted to. We only aim to sustain our ability to keep making our art (at least for the time being). That, in one way or another, requires sharing.
Personally, I like to say that our music is “available for purchase” to those that can support us financially, and we have made various avenues available for fans to download our music for free.
The truth is, the BEST way to help an artist is to purchase AND (illegally) share their music. We need the money, and we most certainly need the exposure. If you can’t do one, at least do the other. If you won’t share it, than at least buy it. If you can’t buy it, download it for free and share it with as many people as possible. Either way helps us, but in the end we need both. If the RIAA continues to debilitate our fans from sharing under the guise of ‘protecting the artist’, we suffocate.
I encourage followers of this blog or May McDonough & Co. to read my open letter to the RIAA: http://www.maymcdonoughandcompany.com/open-letter-to-riaa/