Well that is the attitude of many in the music industry. We all know of the distain for music downloaders that Gene Simmons of Kiss has. It’s almost pathological and it’s based on some pretty screwed up ideas of what is actually going on in the music industry.
His money grabbing view of the music industry is so vindictive and unfortunately out of touch with the reality of the situation, that he is adding nothing to the ‘state of the industry’ debate except for ‘string-em-up’ slogans. His view is that parents of downloaders should have property removed is wacko – but that’s for another post.
Here’s a snippet of what he has to say;
“The record industry doesn’t have a f*cking clue how to make money. It’s only their fault for letting foxes get into the henhouse and then wondering why there’s no eggs or chickens. Every little college kid, every freshly-scrubbed little kid’s face should have been sued off the face of the earth. They should have taken their houses and cars and nipped it right there in the beginning. Those kids are putting 100,000 to a million people out of work. How can you pick on them? They’ve got freckles. That’s a crook. He may as well be wearing a bandit’s mask. Doesn’t affect me. But imagine being a new band with dreams of getting on stage and putting out your own record. Forget it”
Today his thoughts were echoed by Paul McGuinness of U2. In which he claims that ISPs should disconnect users who download music and that the industry is in a state of turmoil from illegal downloaders.
Unfortunately their claims just aren’t backed up by the evidence, which conducted by 2 university researchers out of the University of London for Industry Canada, a branch of the Canadian Govt. In what was a surprising conclusion to their studies, the hypothesis that music downloads harm CD sales just isn’t true.
As their introduction states;
“The primary objective of this paper is to determine how the downloading of music files through Internet peer-to-peer (P2P) networks influences music purchasing in Canada. P2P networks permit members to transfer digitally-stored information to one another over the Internet; popular examples include BearShare, LimeWire and eMule.”
Particularly they were looking at two types of downloaders (not just the one assumed scum bag in Simmons vision);
“The existing literature identifies two competing effects associated with the P2P music file-sharing: the sampling and substitution effects. The sampling effect is characterized both by individuals downloading music in order to listen to it before buying it as well as by individuals downloading music that is not available in stores, while the substitution effect is characterized by individuals downloading music instead of purchasing it.”
Interestingly enough if you were to believe Simmons and others, downloaders were crippling the music industry, however, the conclusions to the study showed that in actual fact;
“we are unable to discover any direct relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchases in Canada. The analysis of the entire Canadian population does not uncover either a positive or negative relationship between the number of files downloaded from P2P networks and CDs purchased.”
How can that be? I thought downloads killed the poor struggling artists and factory workers in the CD shops working hard to put dinner on the table of the family he/she supports.
But it gets worse for Simmons etc (the doom merchants);
“our analysis of the Canadian P2P file-sharing subpopulation suggests that there is a strong positive relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchasing. That is, among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file-sharing increases CD purchasing.”
What, downloaders went and bought the cd’s of the music they had downloaded? Isn’t this completely against what filthy rich Mr Simmons was claiming? Further;
“We estimate that the effect of one additional P2P download per month is to increase music purchasing by 0.44 CDs per year (based on estimates obtained from the negative binomial model in Table 4.3). Furthermore, we find indirect evidence of the ‘market creation’ effect of P2P file-sharing in the positive coefficient on the variable ‘Not available elsewhere’”.
Hang on, now you are telling me that downloaders actually get more people to buy CDs as they discover more music – well blow me down! This is of course my personal experience of downloaded music completely, and unfortunately for poor Mr Simmons, goes against his view of the state of the industry in decline because of downloaders. I find a song I like, or am sent the link to a song that I should check out, and wow, I sometimes end up buying the thing, or if not the evil downloaded file in question is either trashed or never played again, to die a sad death anytime I do a clean out of the hard drive.
But this isn’t new, nor is it adding anything to the debate as to why the industry is in decline (which I would have thought should be the point of this exercise). this from the Guardian from March 2004;
“But the research from Harvard and the University of North Carolina says that, on the contrary, file-sharing helps music sales. The authors, Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf, conclude that file-sharing had no effect on the sale of popular CDs in the second half of 2002. They go on to say that for the top 25% of albums (with sales of more than 600,000 copies) they found a positive effect: 150 downloads were said to increase sales by one copy.”
So even way back then in the face of the evidence the industry and people like Simmons try to vilify the downloaders. In canada recently I saw a music show in which the presenter did an op-ed about this very subject and the gist of his argument was as follows (sorry I can’t remember his name or show – I’ll keep looking though, it was good and I’m sure there is a transcript or download out there).
Downloads aren’t killing the industry, poor music from sad artists packaged by a tired industry that year after year sits on it’s laurels and expects the public to follow is to blame. Take christmas for example, every year instead of the hottest young band with real talent being packaged and pimped, focus groups of marketers have deemed that another greatest hits album from the likes of Rod Stewart or some band that actually only has two albums out anyway is worthy of pushing on the public. Stop feeding us Celine Dion’s greatest hits, and stop packaging pre-teen drivel that appeals to a small number of girls roaming the malls of middle america and give us what the people want music.
Sorry this isn’t verbatim, and as I said I really did want a video of it, because the vitriol in the voice of this guy was fantastic. Furthermore he’s right. It’s not the downloaders who are killing the industry it’s industry execs themselves who are responsible for the tripe that is served up to us every day. They are the ones whom for several decades now are telling us what is good and new, and increasingly it’s drivel.
For Mr Simmons it’s all about making money, and bloody lots of it. For people/bands like Radiohead it’s about the music (and boy does that piss Simmons off – go Thom). But here in NZ it’s also about the total lack of respect for the music consumer. Why do I feel ripped off when I pay almost twice the price for a new CD here that I do in Canada (without the tax issue). Why is it when I go to a decent CD store it’s the same drivel shelf after shelf, and why are these stores filled with young boys and girls who haven’t even heard who Morrissey is, and really couldn’t tell you if they could get a CD in. Or if they could, that would be $50-$60 please – what? Piss Off!!! Why is it that the same old collection of music DVDs is about one 5th of what is available on the high street in most overseas destinations?
Don’t start me on the Billboard 100, and if the Grammy’s are in fact an indication of the state of the industry in America, no bloody wonder they are having troubles, some of the worst music in the world is pushed on us as the biggest and best. Sorry just because you are a low-flowing-ferilicious-timberstake, you are not a music revolutionary. Where are the bands of our generation that my grand kids will be listening too. Each generation except ours has had it’s musical giants, yet ours if forever to be remembered for Vanilla Ice, Millie Vanilli, Brittany Spears etc. No bloody wonder the music industry is in a state of malaise. If I was Simmons I’d be going after the real perpetrators of the crime, the music industry executives. But then, these are the very same people who a lining his pockets, why would he bite the hand that feeds?