MusicLife

You can’t love music if you steal and pirate it

Here is a serious question. Do you love music? Can you imagine a world without your favourite artists and albums? We are priveliged to live in a world where we can listen to just about any piece of music that has ever been commercially recorded and released. There is a huge body of music. I happen to believe our musical heritage is without doubt the our greatest cultural acheivement as a race. If a representative of an alien race was to arrive oin planet Earth and say to me “what has your race achieved that can offer something to the Universe”, I would offer them Mozart, Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, Bob Marley, The Ramones, Billie Holiday, Otis Redding, Patti Smith, The Beach Boys,  The Happy Mondays, Fairport Convention, The Steve Miller Band and Elvis Presleys music. I am sure most of you would compile a different list, but the sentiments would surely be the same. I cannot imagine a life without this soundtrack.

Every single one of the artists in the above list has in some way offered a degree of transformation to my life. We are lucky to have this legacy of the last 100 years or so of recorded music. I used to believe that this was just the start and the best is yet to come. I am becoming ever more worried that this is not the case. You see, for all of the artist mentioned above to produce this great music, as well as all of the artists who are not on my list but may be on yours, they need to survive. They need to be able to work as musicians. They need to build careers, have time to work ontheir music, have access to the finest players. One of the biggest myths I hear is that “it’s all done on computers these days”. Without doubt, there is smuch music made on computers, there are all manner of sampling & editing packages that you can pull together clips of music and make something new. But there is nothing that replaces the excitement and energy of live musicians playing music. And whilst some forms of modern music such as dance tracks and rap can largely be done on a computer, with a programmer, is this how we want the future of music to be?

I personally don’t want bland music generated purely to make the cash roll in. I want music to be produced by people who are passionate about music and want it to be their lives. There is no way you can have an album like Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys or Sgt Peppers by the Beatles produced by a bloke in his bedroom. There is no way that you’d ever get a phenominum like The Sex Pistols generated by a machine. The only way we can expect to see our rich musical heritage develop is for musicians to be able to earn a living from their music. This means that they need to receive royalties for their recordings. None of the classic albums in your collection, none of the tracks you love would ever have reached your ears unless there was some prospect of the artist receiving payments of producing it or the record companies that distribute it making a profit.

We do not live in an idealistic society, where musicians just get a grant from the state and musicians can make whatever music they like, with radio promotion, plugging and distribution all being paid for by the taxman. If we want creative people to be able to make the music you love, they need to be able to thrive doing it. Most musicians have a period of their life where they struggle financially. They put up with this, because they know if they are good enough, there is a prospect that one day they will make a living. If you steal music, this becomes an impossible pipe dream. You would not expect a restaurant to feed you for free, so why do you think a amusician should not be entitled to a living. One rather ignorant soul I know suggested it was different because “musicians enjoy it”. The point is that whilst musicians will always enjoy playing music, if there is no financial rewards, then they have to get jobs and our great musical heritage will die. Another charge I hear is that musicians make money from touring these days. The recorded element is “just promotion”. The point is that if recording music is no longer economically viable, then musicians will have no choice but to downgrade the quality and curb their creativeness. Is this what you want.

The bottom line is that You can’t love music if you steal and pirate it. You are part of a conspiracy to defraud people who you claim to admire and you are part of a society that is strangling our rich creative heritage. It really is as simple as that.