Lets face it, Piracy is absolutely everywhere. Its a global issue and no artist, label or genre is safe.
In legal terms, piracy is theft, plain and simple. If you have not paid for the product and are not in possession of a licence or legal document stating that you have permission to use said product, then by definition, you are a thief.
In an effort to bring some real honesty to this ongoing debate and hopefully encourage others to be honest when discussing their involvement in the future, I have decided to be completely open regarding my own practices.
I have NEVER downloaded from a torrent site, connected to or been part of an online file sharing/seeding network. My involvement in piracy consists of what an anti piracy team might call “receiving stolen goods”. I, like most people have a couple of hard drives, when my close friends come round, they bring their hard drives and pass me the things I’m interested in. Music, programs, samples, vst’s, films, documentaries, TV series, even operating systems, its all fair game.
Unfortunately for my friends, due to the fact that I don’t torrent or download anything new myself, on my hard drive I generally only have the older stuff that they gave me on previous visits and so the “supply chain” usually stops with me.
The one thing myself and my friends will NEVER share at all is “unreleased dubs”. There is a personal connection and level of trust involved when an artist sends you dubs and we are all very respectful of that connection. Myself and my friends don’t fuck about with people’s unreleased material, we’ll give each other the producers AIM, then its up to the individual to ask for the dub personally, if the producer concerned says no, the track goes no further and stays where it is. That’s pretty much the only practice that’s always been “off limits”.
So I’ll be straight with everyone and hold my hands up. I am guilty of listening to pirated music, watching pirated films, TV series and using pirated software that has been given to me by others.
For the record, with regards to this issue I feel I am just as culpable as the next man. I’m not excusing my actions at all, I’m explaining them.
I reckon 95% of people in DnB do the same, if not a lot worse, yet when you ask people about it or discuss it in any way, in most cases they will fiercely deny it and launch into a massive moral narrative about how much of a disgusting piece of shit you are. So with that in mind, with regards to this issue … Have we become hypocrites ?
Fundamentally, I think the vast majority of us are.
Think about it properly, how many of you out there have actually paid for every single piece of music you own ? … Can any of you producers out there honestly say that you have paid for and have receipts for every hi hat, kick drum, vocal sample, pad sample, bass note, every vst, plug-in or sequencer you’ve ever used in the production of your tracks ? … Can every label honestly say that they’ve paid every single artist, every single penny that they we’re rightly entitled to ? … Can every promoter say they’ve always paid out what was agreed with the artists on every single occasion ?
If the answer is “No” to any of these questions, then as far as I’m concerned you may as well be an actual fucking pirate with a hook and a parrot, because with regards to this debate, you don’t have a leg to stand on.
IMO, where the hypocricy begins is when people start moaning about their own tracks being pirated or when people just flat out deny that they have ever taken part in it.
I’ll give you a prime example of this hypocrisy. Recently, a well known producer came on Twitter and posted around 8-10 tweets ranting about people downloading his music for free, he accused these people of killing the scene and taking money directly out of his pockets. Which on the surface is a fair statement. About 6 hours later the same producer posted tweets about how he planned to spend his “rare Saturday off” catching up on a TV series that hadn’t even been broadcast in the UK yet, then he came online a couple of hours later to see if anyone could help him out with a “cheeky link/stream to the UFC fight”. Then, to top it all off, the very next day was asking for a link/stream to not 1, but 2 separate football matches.
Now to me, that shit is fucking priceless, pure comedy gold at its very best. Some people may try and argue the loose moral point that he was only stealing content from large corporations who could afford the financial loss. Others may even argue that in the specific example I’ve given, the person wasn’t posting about stealing music. It doesn’t matter what you’re stealing, who you’re stealing from or how much money they’ve got. Art is art, regardless of format, so legally its all the same offence … Theft.
IMO if you’re willing to steal anything from anyone in this life, then you have no right to complain or make a fuss when the same happens to you in return.
I have run co-founded and managed 2 labels in DnB, 1 of them is still very active and successful. Piracy was a daily concern and when we were able to prevent it or catch those responsible then we would always take action in an effort to protect our artists and our business. But that’s where it stopped. We never ranted or moaned about it and we certainly never took it personal. We saw it more as an occupational hazard. Yes that is a sad state of affairs, but its also a reality of the age we live in, plain and simple.
There is also some good to have come out of the piracy situation. Piracy has made artists and labels more creative and more innovative in their approach to selling music. Label art and design has vastly improved in quality. Marketing and packaging have also improved as artists and labels strive to provide a rounded product that will attract the paying customers to invest in their brands. These improvements are a clear sign that piracy has made the scene “up its game” with regards to the overall product and that can only be a good thing for the scene in the long term.
Please don’t get it twisted, in an ideal world this shit wouldn’t happen. In an ideal world we’d all be pressing 10’000 vinyls per release and collecting our money 3 months later, there would be very no piracy and everything would be tickety-fucking-boo. Sadly, those days are long gone, the world has moved on and music has moved with it. Technology has progressed at a geometric rate and piracy is an inevitable and unfortunate part of that progress.
If artists and labels are really committed to eradicating piracy, one viable solution would be to release ALL music for free, that way no one can steal it. The lost revenue could be recouped by increasing the amount the artist charges for bookings and performances. That may seem far fetched, but its a system that has worked well in other genres, so I see no reason why it wouldn’t work in DnB.
In closing, I think I can safely say that most of us don’t agree with the principal of piracy, but the harsh reality is that not that many people actually give a toss either way anymore. My main motivation for writing this piece was that I wanted certain people in this scene to be a bit more honest, come down off their fucking perch and stop moaning about shit that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
Until next time … Peace.