Music News

Piracy. Should you give your music away for free?

Photograph of the blog post author, Jon Skinner

Jon Skinner

19.12.2012

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We take a look at Topple Track one of the internet’s anti privacy services.

On first impressions, Topple Track looks confusingly like a site for (very delicious) burgers. It’s not however; it’s much more useful than that. It’s even more useful than it is hunger inducing. Topple Track provides musicians with ‘the most comprehensive anti-piracy services on the web’ protecting musicians from the bane of the music industry; the illegal download.

Obviously there are other guys out there who claim to do this, but in comparison, those guys are part timers. These guys are serious! Self professed ‘internet nerds’, they’ve got pretty much every angle covered. Signing up with Topple Track before releasing your song (or before it leaks!) means if people want your tracks… they gonna have to pay!

They don’t just wait around for people to upload the tracks then hope they can delete the links before millions of people illegally download them, they use all sorts of whizz-kid algorithms to find the file’s source and stop it before even it gets on to major search engines.

You think you’d be paying through the nose for a service with this kind of technology, but the prices are insanely reasonable- you could pay as little as $3 to protect a track FOREVER. When you think about how much money you could potentially make from a single track if you were getting everything you should, this is an easy-decision investment. It’s something we’re pretty impressed by here at Music Gateway, as we believe strongly in protection for musicians. You’re really not getting ripped off at all with Topple; they’re genuinely doing you a solid.

Now to a record label, using a service like this is a no brainer. But from an individual music producer/ songwriter’s point of view, there are a lot of arguments for and against stopping people illegally downloading. You want people to hear your music- it’s all about exposure right? Ok so people are getting your stuff and not giving you any money. But at least they’re listening to you instead of just One Direction, right? Hopefully they’re sharing your songs with their friends, increasing your reach and just maybe your economical fan will one day part hands with his hard earned cash to see one of your shows. Just maybe.

Man up fellah! Grow a pair! You deserve something in return for the gift you’ve imparted to the world. Have some belief in your self-worth. No you didn’t make the music for the money- but a girl’s gotta eat. If you’re making good stuff and people want to hear it, then it has value and you should claim that. People are only downloading illegally these days because it’s the done thing and so artists are basically bending to mob rule.

Look at Radiohead’s 2007 release ‘In Rainbows’ which they released for free. Radiohead are one of the biggest bands out there, having sold in excess of 30,000,000 records. People want their music, but it turns out they don’t want to pay. Despite the band’s bohemian attitude, despite the fact they trusted their fans to do the right thing, the majority of people downloaded for free. They still made a lot of money from it, but that’s because they’re Radiohead. Smaller bands probably would have gone hungry.

Take another example, Ed Sheeran; now there’s a music career. His album ‘+’ was the number one illegally downloaded album in the UK this year, with an average of 55,512 illegal downloads a month, but he only actually sold a small fraction of that. He says he doesn’t mind, but it’s pretty common knowledge that he regularly sleeps on his mate’s sofas. While this may be a marketing ploy, the figures speak for themselves; he’s making way less money than he should be. What’s the point in being famous if you don’t get the perks? I think TLC spoke for women everywhere when they said they ‘don’t want no scrubs’.

I digress. In this fast paced digital world where the face of the music industry is constantly changing, you never know what could make you the next big thing. The reality is though that the majority of us just want to know when we can have the next big burger. You’ve worked hard on your music, so take some pride in it, value it. It’s the only way that other people will and that could be the key to change. When cultural conscience believes that a song is an expression of an artist’s soul once again, and not just an mp3 file, that’s when there will be a much brighter future for musicians. Overly sentimental? Probably. But if you believe in improving careers in music like we do, then you know that something has to change. Perhaps this is one of the first steps.


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