Wednesday, November 28, 2007

today's PSA

I have been refraining from saying so much online regarding the following topic because there is a fine line between useful public relations and self-aggrandizement. But, in light of stark generational differences, I have learned that there are many people who just don't realize. Therefore, let me say the barenaked following and I'll leave it at that.

I came across a blog today that was offering the two Kayo Dot albums and the Tartar Lamb album as full, free downloads via megaupload or other similar file transfer sites. I will speak only of Tartar Lamb for now - an album that was 100% self-financed by maxing out my credit cards and going through dumbfoundingly brutal circumstances on the road; an album that took two years to produce. At the time of this writing, 174 people had downloaded Sixty Metonymies via the aforementioned blog alone. Anyway, the point is: musicians being Anti-Downloading is NOT an issue of greed. Just because you have seen someone's name in a magazine or on a messageboard does NOT mean that they are doing well. Who knows if downloading is a big deal for rich artists like Metallica? I sure don't. But probably every single person that reads my blog, and the blog I complained about above, is a fan of the whole world of music where every CD sale matters in a big way, makes a difference whether your artists can eat on tour or not, makes a difference whether they can pay their bills at home, and makes a difference whether a label will have the confidence in sales to help their artists make another record in the future. Think about it this way too: if merely one-sixth of the Kayo Dot fans on myspace bought a CD directly from the band, that would generate as much income as a person makes in the entirety of a year working a full-time job for a meager wage. So there is clearly something unbalanced about the number of people whose lives have been enhanced by our hard work vs. our personal situations. I'm sure this also applies to 95% of all the bands that we listen to and claim to love so much.

Of course, this is not a new thought, nor am I saying anything revolutionary here. I just decided to post this in case a reader out there was unaware.


Matt Tavares said...

But it can definitely work in the opposite way aswell, how many CD sales have you gotten because of people downloading your music who may not have heard or even considered listening to you had they not been on their daily music blog or wherever.

I can say that I have turned about 5 people on to Kayo Dot, most of them whom I lent / burned a copy of the CD for them, and they went out of their way to purchase the actual CD in order to support the music, when they didn't actually have to. Imagine if just 20 people who illegally downloaded your album from that blog purchased the album because they were so blown away by it, surely that's money in your pocket, considering these are people who would have never known about Tartar Lamb / Kayo Dot had they not had given it a chance.

I have worked in many fields which have become a victim to online piracy, probably the music industry and the software industry standing out the most, but I normally just come out with this conclusion: If someone pirated the album, and then bought, then that is 100% profit in your pocket, if someone pirated the album and didn't purchase the album, then obviously that person may not have enjoyed the music, or didn't enjoy it enough to constitute spending $15 on it, or just simply couldn't afford it. I personally I have a list of 100s of albums which I will one day purchase, but for now do not have the means to, should I not be entitled in listening to that music simply because I am not in the financial position to support the artist?

Obviously it's different for people who choose to not support the artist simply because they can download it, but I doubt music is the only thing that these people are trying to pirate.

Anyway, just something to consider.

Toby Driver said...

This is the #1 common argument (and a pretty good one), but I have learned that your situation is the exception, not the rule. And the fact that sometimes there are good effects doesn't make it okay, because the fact is there are thousands of listeners who just choose not to pay vs. dozens who do pay, and that does not do anything for the artist, and is, at its heart, just all about self-gratification for most people. Vampirism against artists, basically. You ask if you should not be entitled to listen to music you haven't paid for... I think the answer is HELL NO, you should NOT be entitled. Why should anyone be? It's people's sense of entitlement that is actually the root of the whole problem. (and the root of so many other problems in this world as well).

Simply imagining that 20 people who downloaded from said blog purchased is great, but guess how many actually did. Zero! The theory of music sharing and honor buying is fantastic and i love it, but does not apply to the real world.

Anonymous said...

you said "should I not be entitled in listening to that music simply because I am not in the financial position to support the artist?"

I do not see your logic here. Music isn't public property, it's owned by somebody. Trading music is a sticky subject and its true that it is hard to judge bands by a few samples that they put up on their website. Though, if you look at the Kayo Dot website, almost the entire Dowsing.. CD is available as well as full songs off of Chiors. So, in this case I would say, if you cant afford the music, you can listen to the samples on the website until you can afford the Cd. ;)

Matt Tavares said...

Well, the word entitled was a bad choice, but I'm not going to get into that debate.

The counter argument to the fact that zero people who downloaded the album from said blog could be that now you have 170 or so people who are AWARE of Kayo Dot, ask yourself, are these really people who would have purchased the album, out of the blue, for whatever reason. Probably not, obviously the fact that they now have the album is a deterrent to actually purchasing it, but who knows, maybe they'll be larger crowds on tours or just more fans in general, if anything piracy is the best form of viral hype.

For the people who don't go by the honor system, who have the capacity and funds to purchase the music they download and enjoy but don't, then it really is just a "Heart of Darkness" situation. Here you have a way to steal music, with complete anonymity and practically zero direct consequences for the person committing the act, so why not. The biggest argument people use against this is that online pirates wouldn't steal physically packaged music, but if their was a way to do so with zero direct consequences then I'm sure they would.

The people who are pirating the music and not giving back aren't exclusively doing it to you, its generally on a mass scale, where they purchase no music and contribute nothing to the artist. Sure, this a the downside, but there will ALWAYS be people who will try to find a way out, it may be on a larger scale due to the accessibility of "free" music, but these are people who would probably have never purchased your album regardless. At this level, you can only blame the system which allows people to get away with it, but as long as their is a free and open way to distribute information on a global level, their will always be digital piracy.

Anyway, I'm going to stop debating this, having not personally released music for profit I can't really speak for both sides, and I imagine that in your case it is very different, but essentially this is proverbially crying over spilt milk, its the way things are for better or for worse - some people choose to utilize online music distribution as a way of finding and supporting underground artists, others use it as a way to exploit "free" music.

Whether the destruction of this system would result in higher profits for you, I cannot be the judge, but I guess it's just the way things are.

Jared Dillon said...

i'll be honest. whenever Dowsing was officially released on the '05 tour, i downloaded a copy off someone who had bought it, knowing full well that i'd most likely purchase it whenever you guys came through PA.

i do understand your sentiments towards this issue, but i do have to disagree with the simple fact that Kayo Dot's music is simply not available by ease for people that do not have some form of credit card. also, are you honestly saying you've never pirated any type of music? i'm sure along some point of your life someone has handed you a burned copy of some release that someone thought you'd enjoy. i'm not necessarily arguing with you because you do have the right to your music and i have tried my best to support your endeavors by purchasing them all and attending any concerts i can, but there is a reasoning behind some of the downloading.

maybe it has to do with the generation gap between most of the fans of Kayo Dot and the actual members of Kayo Dot. but, lets be honest most of the people who are huge fans of Kayo Dot probably found out about the band because of some form of online promotion. whether it be torrent, review, download, or your own myspace. Kayo Dot in no way could be as successful as it has been without the help of the internet and while that probably has no effect on your personal inspiration, it does have an effect on how people feel about the band. although, Kayo Dot could use the money much more than say a band like Opeth, it is near impossible for someone to walk into their local record store and find a Kayo Dot release. at least that has been the case in my experience. the only two shops i've seen carrying your records were Other Music in NYC and Amoeba Music in LA which is to be expected.

i for one have tried to avoid promoting Kayo Dot through such things as uploading official releases to blogs and such, but that just seems to go hand in hand with my immense respect for you and the rest of the people you choose to place in your band. it is understandable that many listeners wouldn't have that, because the current trend in music.. but i really don't know what more there is to say about that.

i don't know whether you are right or wrong. and i do know i download music an awful lot. so, while my instinct is to agree with you getting taken advantage of, i do have my own agenda and feel like i should not be a hypocrite.

Toby Driver said...

I think you guys are right in your own way, and I'm not talking about either of the two of you guys because I know both of you have bought our stuff, etc. What i am talking about, however, is poignantly exemplified in this statement of yours, jared:

"Kayo Dot in no way could be as successful as it has been"

And i wonder exactly what you mean by that. Successful how? Being successful artistically, to me, does not require a listener. Being successful professionally on the other hand is not empyrically helped by people who love their artists but contribute nothing to the artist personally. If by "successful" you mean a situation where the artist is working a meaningless office job 50 hrs a week and still not able to pay all his bills, yet having thousands of listeners all over the world, then I guess that term could apply here.

Jared Dillon said...

i'd still say you could account of at least 25% of Kayo Dot's sales to those who found out about the albums because of downloading albums.

Toby Driver said...

Probably true, but what good is a sale if the artist's situation does not change?

Toby Driver said...

Actually, let me rephrase that. Every sale matters in these types of situations where leaving home to tour is a dangerous risk. If all, or even a large portion, of listeners were actually buyers, the artist would not be putting himself in danger of bankruptcy, homelessness, etc., by choosing to go on tour and a healthier environment overall for artists would exist.

A reflection on the benefit show for Nuci's Space a couple weeks ago ( - consider what kind of abusive environment must exist towards musicians, where we are to make music via compulsion and vocation at great personal loss? And how many musicians have I known that despair as a result? Even one is too many.

Jared Dillon said...

i definitely agree with you there. still, there is really nothing you can do on the issue besides making your feelings known. i'm positive i have no clue what its like to go through some of the sacrifices that you have for your music so your contempt for something that completely robs you of some of the rewards of those sacrifices is important. and to be honest, i really don't have an answer to the issue. i agree and disagree with you.

Toby Driver said...

Yeah, I hope that public honesty from artists about it, (without contempt that will alienate fans), may be a solution. The mythologization of rock musicians used to be cool and worked well for artists until the digital age, but now it works completely against them. People think the band is "huge" and that we receive "income"... but neither could be further from the truth.

Mafian said...

My continued existence is dependent on illegal downloading. It is stealing in the same way that it's stealing to read a magazine in the store or watch a football game from a nearby roof, but following the law when it comes to this would require me to listen to a lot less music, and that's a sacrifice I'm not willing to make. That said, I still buy more music than a lot of people. When a person who downloads a lot of music actually buys something, what he buys is more likely something that actually deserves to be bought and the last Kayo Dot full-length doesn't deserve my hard-earned money.

B-mac said...

And as not to appear as a troll I would like to say I've purchased everything Maudlin ever put out. Thank you "Bath" has changed my life mate. :D

Anonymous said...

Mafian, I don't think you really have the right to say that Dowsing did not deserve your hard-earned money. You experienced something didn't you? Just because it wasn't what you expected doesn't mean you shouldn't give the accolades to the artist that worked on it. Especially if you respect the artist, you should support every effort in hopes that the next album will redeem your expectations.

I don't know, though, I download a lot of music, but I also buy a lot as many have said thus far. I just find myself in a conundrum when it comes the music industry itself. I have witnessed to much waste and corruption in terms of the major labels in this world. Limited expression along with unacceptable licensing and copyright issues. These issues were only exemplified in the poor handling of the digital age. I find the whole state of music right now is in complete jeaprody and at the same time I see it improving the spread of art, I am concerned to see artists such as yourself go through such a hard time.

Fuck it, very little of that made sense. I'll put it this way: I'm conflicted on the issue.

David said...

The problem is that the cd's are so expensive, i ordered Dowsing Anemone (which i loved) from Chile and costed me like 25 dollars. I've downloaded all your records but someday i'll definitively buy them all (i've been looking for Choirs for ages). Cheers

trash culturist said...

I have tried to purchase Choirs of the Eye and Drowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue to no avail. Your website is user unfriendly. Please rectify this and you can bet I will buy your music!

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