Lily Allen's Thoughts on File Sharing
As Posted on her blog. http://www.myspace.com/lilymusic/blog/510114316
I havent written on here for a while but I've taken the time to write this as I think music piracy is having a dangerous effect on British music, but some really rich and successful artists like Nick Mason from Pink Floyd and Ed O'Brien from Radiohead don't seem to think so. Last week in an article in the Times these guys from huge bands said file sharing music is fine. It probably is fine for them. They do sell-out arena tours and have the biggest Ferrari collections in the world. For new talent though, file sharing is a disaster as it's making it harder and harder for new acts to emerge. Heres a link to the article http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article6828262.ece
Mason, O'Brien and the Featured Artists Coalition say that file sharing's "like a sampler, like taping your mate's music", but mix tapes and recording from the radio are actually very different to the file sharing that happens today. Mix tapes were rubbish quality - you bought the real music, because you liked the track and wanted to hear it without the DJ cutting off the end of each song. In digital land pirated tracks are as good quality as bought tracks, so there's not a need to buy for better quality. The Featured Artist Coalition also says file sharing's fine because it "means a new generation of fans for us". This is great if you're a big artist at the back end of your career with loads of albums to flog to a new audience, but emerging artists don't have this luxury. Basically the FAC is saying 'we're alright, we've made it, so file sharing's fine', which is just so unfair to new acts trying to make it in the industry.
You don't start out in music with the Ferraris. Instead you get a huge debt from your record company, which you spend years working your arse off to repay. When you manage to get a contract, all those pretty videos and posters advertising your album have to be paid for and as the artist, you have to pay for them. I've only just finished paying off all the money I owe my record company. I'm lucky that I've been successful and managed to pay it back, but not everyone's so lucky. You might not care about this, but the more difficult it is for new artists to make it, the less new artists you'll see and the more British music will be nothing but puppets paid for by Simon Cowell.
And it's not like there aren't alternatives to illegal downloads anyway. Sites like Spotify give us access to new music and different music without having to rip someone off - you can listen to tracks and see if you like them before you buy them. Then obviously there's MySpace, that streams music and helps acts like me get enough fans to convince record companies to sign us up.
If this sounds like I'm siding with the record bosses, I'm not. They've been naive and complacent about new technology - and they've spent all the money they've earned on their own fat salaries not industry development. But as they start to lose big from piracy, they're not slashing their salaries - they're pulling what they invest in A&R. Lack of funds results in A&R people not being able to take risks and only signing acts they think will work, which again makes British music Cowell puppets.
Is this the way we want British music to go? Now, obviously I'm going to benefit from fighting piracy, but I think without fighting it, British music is going to suffer.
I don't think what's out there is perfect. It's stupid that kids can't buy anything on the internet without credit, forcing them to steal Mum's credit card or download illegally. It's this kind of thing that the record company bosses, artists, broadband providers and government should be sitting down and discussing. I'm off to South America on tour today, but i'm going to be writing British artists, saying just this.
File sharing's not okay for British music. We need to find new ways to help consumers access and buy music legally, but saying file sharing's fine is not helping anyone - and definitely not helping British music. I want to get people working together to use new digital opportunities to encourage new artists.