Lets set the record straight real quick, I believe that artists should be paid for their works.Â I even feel that in cases of severe copying/pirating of material that people should be tried in a court of law.Â By extreme I mean mass producing compact discs to sell on a black market.Â However, the recording industry representatives seem hell bent on charging for every aspect of use that exists today.Â From using a song in a television show to web radio.Â It is the latter that brings us here today.
It seems that last week, the recording industry had a court win in which a judge stated that a former decision to charge webcasters exorbitant royalty fees would stay in place and that they must pay up by the 15th of May.Â This decision is going to really hurt some forms of webcasting, one of the most popular among them is Pandora.Â Pandora is web radio that you can use to help you find new artists to listen to based on those you already like and it is just one of hundreds of thousands of internet radio stations on the net.
The recording industry seems to want to be paid for every use of a song and in some cases such fees are okay.Â However, when it comes to web radio, they are forcing people to pay to promote their product.Â There is no other market that follows this method of practice.Â Everywhere else the company pays to have people advertise for them.Â But the recording industry wants to be paid by people promoting their music.Â This does not make sense and I can not understand how artists can approve of such practices.
As a musician, I would want my music to reach as many ears as possible.Â It just makes sense for me to allow people to play my music for others.Â Especially without them having to pay for the privilege to do so.Â Musicians have existed on word of mouth long before radio or record companies.Â In fact, several small artists exist solely on word of mouth.Â Others have built entire careers on word of mouth (John Mayer, anyone?).Â In fact, word of mouth is how artists get noticed in the first place.Â A person goes and sees a band they like.Â The concert has 2 opening acts and the second one really rocks.Â They tell their friends about this really cool band they saw and then those friends go with their friend to that band’s next concert.Â Thus, the cycle begins and that bands fan base begins to grow which can lead to bigger album sales which gets them noticed by the majors.
The idea of web radio is only beneficial to the artists that get played.Â A webcaster starts a small radio station where they play their favourite songs from their favourite artists.Â As more people listen to the station, the more people find out about the bands that webcaster likes, and if that webcaster has a large collection of unsigned bands, that only increases their fan base.Â So why on earth would the recording industry want to end the practice of free advertising if all it is going to do is bring in more money long term?
The answer is simple.Â The recording industry is trying desperately to hold onto an idea of how their business should work, rather than adapting to the change in climate.Â They deal in counter productive practices.Â For example, they want people to buy entie albums rather than singles, but they want artists to only write and record marketable songs (singles).Â They encourage artists to write songs that are marketable which means less time for the band to expand and try new things because they have to pump out five, four minute verse-chorus-verse songs.Â The idea of the public picking what they want to hear is an unheard of practice to these people.Â They would rather tell you what to listen to rather than you trying to figure it out yourself.Â The recording industry has become nothing more than an oversized marketing department that cares only about getting paid rather than developing musicians.
I have friends in bands and they all want the national exposure a recording contract would bring, but they continue to struggle to record albums on their own dollar and play shows around their state.Â A couple of them have even given me free reign to use their music as I see fit, because they want the free publicity that comes with that.Â I have sent their music to Sirius radio DJs, used their music in Power of Information (which gets aired on a real radio station once a week), and even gone through the trouble to find out how to get their music on television shows (did not have much luck on that front so if anyone can help let me know).Â But they understand the power of free publicity and word of mouth and want to utilize that to a great degree.
I really wonder if the recording industry is ever going to fully understand the concept of change and adapt.Â Sure, we have some folks who do get it and are working to change things at the levels they can but really the whole system needs to be gutted and redone from the ground up.Â There needs to be a focus on the artist and the music, not the number of dollars that can brought in.