This is a subject that we’ve not really tackled much of here on Daily Duranie. During John’s panel discussion yesterday at DLD it was brought up rather briefly, but long enough to find that piracy and illegal downloading doesn’t keep John up at night. He doesn’t seem to worry much about it, and went as far as to say that at least in his opinion, if fans are going to the trouble to find bootlegs and things online, they obviously are interested in what you have to say. Naturally, not every member (past or present) of Duran Duran feels the same way. For instance, I know that Nick is much more concerned about the issue – even so – I don’t feel as though it’s something that the band really addresses that often. Perhaps it doesn’t come up in interviews, what with all of the “Are there really plates and piles of cocaine backstage?” questions that come up. There’s just not enough time to cover all of the hard questions!
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that for labels – piracy and downloading is a huge issue. That’s not to say I really believe it hurts sales as much as I think that labels honestly don’t know their backside from their brain(s) enough to deal with technology in general. I just happen to believe that to the labels, it’s the huge elephant in the room that refuses to budge, and that thought process trickles on down to contracted/represented bands and artists, whether by droplets or by a small deluge. I’ve been around long enough to see Napster come down in flames, to see iTunes go from rumor to reality…and to see sales figures that appear dwarfed compared to decades earlier. The trouble for me is deciding just how much of it really comes down to downloading. If I were to ask any label person, anyone in the industry – they would likely say most of the problem is from illegal downloading. If I asked a music fan, they’d laugh and say that downloading has very little to do with the problem.
Since I’m indeed a fan and not an industry person or analyst by any means of the word, I can only see this one perspective, that of a fan. If you have your own perspective or wish to guest blog for us and bring your own experience to the Daily Duranie blog, let me know. I’d love to have another perspective. Truth be told – my experience begins and ends with Duran Duran. I’m not going to lie, of course I know of bootlegs. It’s difficult to be around the community and not at least know of them. I’ve seen everything from shows to demos that can be traded amongst fans. That said, if these items were sold by the band, we’d buy them, and I think that should be crystal clear to the band by now. If it is not, let me put the band on notice: WE WOULD BUY WHATEVER YOU MADE AVAILABLE. Some of the tastiest treats I’ve heard have been bootlegs of various things, various shows, things that were never officially recorded and sold by the band. That said, I have bought multiple copies of every single album, single, etc. that the band has ever made…and I don’t say that as though I should be worthy of a trophy or something. I say that because I know I’m far from being the only one. Granted, the sales of their more recent work hasn’t been great. We all know that, but it’s not because of the fans that this is so. I’ve looked for things online (specifically shows I’ve attended) hoping to find certain songs that I will likely never hear again live, not because I don’t care to purchase them directly from the band (if they offered the shows I’d buy them in a heartbeat), but because I want the memory from that special night. I already own the recorded version and want the live performance from the show. As John said so eloquently yesterday – I am very interested in what the band has to say, and again – I am positive I’m not the only fan out there that would agree!
Illegal downloading and piracy goes much farther and deeper than just some show bootlegs that aren’t “official”. There are fans out there that just don’t feel as though they should have to buy music to enjoy it, that they should be able to download them for free whenever they so choose. In my opinion, that’s not really the same issue. If an album is available for purchase and someone is choosing to download it for free instead, that’s entirely different from getting a show bootleg by trade (not by purchase). Would you agree?
The bottom line for me is that on one hand, it’s a situation where I believe as long as the music gets out there – that’s what’s important. If people really like you and are interested in what’s going on, eventually you’ll make a sale from them. On the other hand, I really do believe that music is artistic and intellectual property and shouldn’t be copied and stolen. That said, I don’t see how this is any different from copying audio tapes for friends back in the 80’s. I can remember making tapes of various songs and giving them to friends (ah yes, the memories of mix tapes!). Of course the operative word there is “give”, not “sell”, which I’ve never done. I have burned many a CD for people, again – giving them away just as I would mix tapes. I’m not sure that we should be blaming downloads for all of the problems that the industry bears these days, especially when it seems to be more of a cop-out than anything.