Thursday, April 7, 2011

Is Music Quality in Danger Because of Piracy?

In the article "Has Music Piracy Killed the 'Recording Artist'?" written by Rick Carnes, and interesting idea is brought to light using The Beatles as a reference (article: Because of the Beatles vast success selling records, they were able to quit touring and focus more energy into being "recording artists". That is, they spent more time writing and recording music, developing, fine tuning, and pioneering new ideas with their music. While touring was very profitable, they were able to forgo touring because of all those record sales.

What does this mean when piracy becomes such a prominent method of accessing music? Income from record sales drastically goes down. As mentioned by the article, "We're just moving out of a brief period -- a flash in history's pan -- when an artist could expect to make a living selling records alone." Because of the decrease in record sales, the main modes of profit are now the live shows and the niceties that can be purchased at the shows (t-shirts, refreshments, souvenirs, etc.)

Why would artists put as much time or effort into their music (and music videos) when real money lies in the concerts? Their music only needs to be good enough to fill a stadium. They can't afford to spend to much time recording/writing/creating when they need to be on the road performing to be making money.

Perhaps with less time for artists to be creative on their own, they will have to band together and borrow each other's ideas and expand upon them. However, as brought up in the movie RiP: A Remix Manifesto (Brett Gaylor 2009), this is simply too risky; fair use is too unwieldy for a musician to stake their entire fortune on them not getting successfully sued.

With the lack of time/incentive to develop new musical ideas and the dangers of borrowing current ideas, where are the new classic songs going to come from? Are we going to be stuck listening to auto-tuned teenagers choking out song lyrics for the rest of our lives? I sure hope not!


  1. I don't know about you, but when I listen to music, I look for quality recordings and THEN go to see them in concert. I will not go to see a band that is not played on the radio due to low quality recordings. I would consider the recordings to be advertising for the band's money-making ventures.

  2. I have to agree with what Josh has said about this. I also look for the quality of the artist before going to a concert. It makes no sense to do it backwards. I disagree with the fact that the money is only in the concerts, not in the other artifacts that the artist produces. Although both the concerts and the other products create such success, they both compliment one another and I believe that they simply cannot be used independently.

    Having piracy in the mix of all this, is another way for artists to regain a new audience. People share music with their friends and family thus spreading different genera of music thought the world. It allows many people to gain access to the so called 'underground' music as well as more widely known artist and this helps these artist to gain more fame. Although it does decrease record sales, it is made up for with the concerts and products produced by the artist.

  3. I completely agree, but yet bands generally regarded as being mediocre (as oppose to outstanding) still bring in pretty big crowds and can make plenty of money. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the cost for a band to transform their music from being mediocre to being outstanding is greater than the amount of income they gain by doing so. It also requires more risk. There seems to be less incentive to for mediocre bands to become great than there used to be.