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The music industry is in a strange place right now. Only a few years ago a few giant record labels ruled the land and no artist could ever see their work published unless it was through these BIG 3.

Enter the internet and cue Sean Parker and Napster. This fueled the still burning fire that is file sharing. We all know how it started. Napster started doing the peer to peer file sharing thing then the music execs got wind of it and sued his ass so hard only Facebook and Justin Timberlake could save his image. Then came a slew of normal (not rich) people being sued for millions of dollars for downloading music. But this hasn’t really changed much of anything.

People used to use Bearshear and Limewire, now the whole world is on Bittorrent. But people are still stealing music. iTunes changed the way we buy music by making single songs purchasable through the iTunes store. Now the $.99 a song thing is the standard and buying a whole album is as easy as clicking a button. Then it’s on your iTunes, on your MP3 player and in your iCloud (if you so choose) and then everywhere you go. Technology is an amazing thing.

BUT no matter how a person gets their music, when they don’t pay for it, it’s stealing. There’s no way around it.

Section 106 of the Copyright Act specifies 6 different rights a musical author has. The act states that the owner of copyright has the exclusive right to do and to authorize any of the following:

1. to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonerecords;

2. to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;

3. to distribute copies or phonerecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

4. in the case of literary, musical,dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;

5. in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictoral, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and

6. in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of digital audio transmission.

These are referred to as the bundle of rights.

[p. 84-85 Baskerville, David and Tom. Music Business Handbook and Career Guide. 9th ed. Sherwood Publishing 2010.]

Number three is what concerns us. The law states very clearly that only the copyright holder has the right to distribute their work. So when you torrent or illegally download a song or album, you’re blatantly breaking the law.

Now, is it a big deal and is it wrong? That’s the real issue here.

For me, it’s a moral issue. I illegally download music. I won’t lie about it, but I do it because I’m broke as fuhh. But as I watch the percentage bars rise I can’t help but harbor a sense of guilt. I know in theory how much work goes into recording an album; hours and hours in the studio, blood sweat and tears; but I can’t imagine what it feels like to birth that musical love child and have it stolen away from me. As often as I can, I buy a whole album on iTunes. It just feels better that way. But sometimes a favorite artist drops an album and I barely have money for sandwiches, so I steal it.

But if it was my music there would be a part of me that would want all my broke ass fans to steal it. If it’s my passion, all I want is for people to hear and love it, not to make 7¢ on every download. But the other half of me would be pissed that I dedicated months, maybe years to making this album that then makes absolutely no money because everyone is downloading it illegally.

For me it’s a double edged sword. Be a good fan and keep up with new music by stealing it, or be a good fan by buying new music, but not as much as I wish I could.

 

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I’ve never reviewed a band or a live show before so this will be new for the both of us.

I saw The New Pornographers a The Moon tonight. It was a spur of the moment show, so I had very limited expectations. I find this is usually a good way to go into things. My only prior experience with TNP was a single song I had on a compilation album. “100 of the best indie songs of 2008.” The song was mostly acoustic and piano with forlorn male and female vocals over the top.

Their live performance was anything but acoustic and forlorn. They’re a six piece band with two keyboards, lead vocalist/ guitarist, rhythm guitarist, bass, and drummer. As you can imagine they made quite a bit of noise. And contrary to the one I had heard prior, most of their set was upbeat and rocking.

They we’re much older than I expected too. Not to say they were Rolling Stones-back-from-the-dead-old, but they we’rent dropped-out-of-college-to-tour-with-my-band-young. The majority of the audience was of a similar age. I found this refreshing. It made me feel like I was standing amongst something already established. I felt as if I was an outsider in a world I didn’t understand.

So many shows I go to are played by kids my age which fills me with equal parts jealousy and happyness. The fact that all of the players in TNP were much older than I, a few even graying, was nice to see and made me feel that I was seeing an established artist and not some kids with instruments.

But their experience almost played against them. One of their keyboard players seemed sooo bored on stage. He hardly smiled and barely made eye contact with the audience. I couldn’t hear anything he was playing, which may have well been a factor. I wouldn;t be having a good time if all of my parts were turned down.

Besides that, the melodies and harmonies between their frontman and their pianist/female vocalist were great. Many of their songs seemed similar to someone who didn’t know the words and wasn’t familiar with the tunes. They all carried a similar head-bobbing tempo and chug chug downbeat rhythm. These were punctuated by one or two solemn and downbeat songs, including the one I recognized. By the end of the hour and a half, as they played newer and more well known tunes (and as the audience downed more bottles) the crowd became more animated and sang back the lyrics with more vigor and closing their set with an all-singing all-playing shout chorus of oohs and ahhs, echoed by the audience.

The obligatory encore was played after some thirty seconds behind the stage. One I was surprised I recognized. They exited the stage with a wave and a thank you, polite and friendly until the end. The roadies came out and the audience begrudgingly realized it was time to leave. Cleverly, country music was blared over the house speakers to clear the loiterers out.

With no expectations I found I was pleasantly surprised. I usually don’t like going to shows where I don’t know the music and don’t know the words, but I found their songs easy to bob and sway to, and the small intimate audience made the experience all that much more memorable. Though they seemed like a band not used to playing a venue so large, The New Pornographers were more than up to the challenge, and delivered.

In my search to become more absorbed in music and PR I’ve come across a whole world of new music blogs and things. Mostly I asked a friend of mine who works in the industry to tell me what he reads everyday and this is what he gave me:

Consequence of sound

Alternative Press

Pitchfork

Hypemachine

Hillydilly

Stereogum

NME

This Song is Sick

Most of these are daily news from the music industry. Who’s releasing an album soon, who’s joint what music festival and the like. All interesting stuff but as a starving college student, I don’t have the funds to travel all over to music festivals. I just read the set lists online and simmer with jealousy. A few of these are music streaming sights. Hillydilly and Hypemachine have proven to be invaluable resources for new music. On Hypemachine, I love sitting on the “newest” tab and listening to the random assortment of brand new stuff coming down the pipe. It even tells you when it was posted; “10 minutes ago.” It feels so refreshing to listen to a track immediately after it’s posted. It’s like I’m there in the studio.  For every track a link is included to eMusic, Amazon, and iTunes where you can buy the song or the album.

I’ve never felt such a direct connection to new artists. I used to read magazines and look for the “newest bands” section and check those out. But I’ve always felt that a thousand other kids are doing the same thing, and the band had to have been somewhat successful already to be picked up by the magazine. But on Hypemachine I feel an instant and intimate connection to bands that spark my interest. I can immediately go buy their album online through Amazon or iTunes. Amazon is great too, because if I like an artist so much I want to buy their album, Amazon will recommend t-shirts and other albums by the artist as well.

It’s mind blowing how hard it must have been for artists before the internet. The struggle of finding your audience and getting people to hear your music. Now it seems the major struggle is getting people to pay for their music. But that’s a different post altogether.