Viewing all items for tag Record Companies

Netting the Evil Pirates

In a long-overdue move, several of the Uk’s biggest net providers – among them British Telecom, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse – have signed up to a deal proposed by the UK government and the music industry to help tackle piracy online.

Hundreds of thousands of letters will be sent to net users suspected of illegally downloading music. Hardcore file-sharers could see their broadband connections slowed and will ultimately face the threat of legal action.

It has taken years for ISPs to adopt this view and it could be argued that such measures are too little too late, but it is at least a start.

I would ask everyone to bear in mind that the argument usually put forward by illegal downloaders that the major record companies are not financially affected to any substantial degree by such activity is a moot point; but more importantly, that music piracy hurts independent musicians and artists, too. These are the people who will suffer the largest detrimental effects, and without them, the production of truly great music will eventually grind to a very unwelcome halt.

Respect Where It’s Due

Ashley Morgan wrote a brilliant piece over on UpstartBlogger.com about the way the record industry is evolving, especially with regard to blogging.

He is spot on with his astute observations on the new forms of distribution and marketing that independent musicians and song writers are currently using to sell their material. He does not pull any punches when criticising the prosaic and sloth-like major labels. He clearly sees the big corporations as dim-witted and desperate in their attempts to adopt new methods and reserves a special hatred for the way they show little respect for their artists and music consumers in general.

More importantly, I have to thank him for giving me a mention and for his kind comments about napoleonfantastic.com.

I agree with Ashley that the whole industry would be in a much healthier state if the major labels afforded more respect to their customers, the end-user, people like you and I – well, people like you; not me – I’m a genius.

The Artist Formally Available in Record Stores

I am somewhat concerned that Planet Earth, the new album from Prince, the artist formerly known as ‘the artist formerly known as Prince’, was given away free this weekend with the Mail On Sunday newspaper here in the UK.

Prince probably feels that he has employed some clever marketing tactics and has outsmarted the record industry in the process – something that many musicians would dearly love to do on a regular basis. But he has manifestly done it at the highest level.

Although the performer himself (who received around £250,000 in the deal – more, in all probability, than he would have earned if the album went on sale normally, his last CD selling only around 80,000 copies in the UK), the newspaper, and around 3 million consumers – who may or may not be Prince fans - have greatly benefited from the promotion, the whole thing is an insult to high street record stores and other music retailers.

As a songwriter, musician and record company co-owner, I personally feel very uneasy about this move. It implies that music ought to be free and therefore has no value. Retail prices for CDs and tracks available for download have fallen considerably recently, and whilst this is obviously advantageous to the general music-buying public, it is a serious concern for the rest of the industry.

And while you ruminate on this, why not go and download the free 4-track Enormous EP, or the awe-inspiring EP from the critically acclaimed ultracool, punky pop band Slaughterhouse 5 . . . which, as luck would have it, is also free. Hehehe.

In Quintessence

Hooray! Squeeze, one of my favourite bands of all time, are reforming for a series of gigs. Hooray!

That’s made my day, that has. (I’m sat here pecking at my keyboard with an Enormous hard-on and wearing a big satisfied grin – nothing else.)

It is no secret how much I admire the songs of Difford and Tillbrook – indeed, when Slaughterhouse 5 were on IRS Records, we used to share promoters and a US management team – and now, for the first time in many a long while, we can get to hear them in the flesh, as it were.

Here is what Glenn says on his website: ‘Who’d have thought it? This year sees the start of the re-release campaign by Universal and Warners of the entire Squeeze back catalogue. These releases are something that Chris and I are really proud of and so in support of this, we have decided to do a limited amount of shows as Squeeze. All information about releases and dates will be posted up here on a regular basis. – Glenn’

The UK shows go on sale on Friday the 16th March. Here is the poster for the UK dates.

See you at the Hammersmith in London – and in Manchester at the Apollo as well, most likely. Wayhey!

Bye Bye DRM

All Big Arena Records’ releases are available without any form of copy protection software.
We believe that the abolition of such software – known as Digital Rights Management (DRM) – is good for both consumers, artists and music suppliers.

Major record companies are afraid of ‘leakage’ where one person illegally copies a track for somebody else. This problem will pale into insignificance however compared to the massive extra sales that will be generated when people feel free to use their purchases in any way they want for their own personal musical pleasure.

Even Steve Jobs, the boss of Apple, has today urged the world’s record companies to begin selling songs online without DRM. Apple has been under pressure recently to make its iTunes music store compatible with other music players, not just the iPod.

I am all for the universal protection of artists’ rights and believe any copyright offense should be dealt with stringently, but the fact remains that DRM copy protection has simply failed to tackle music piracy. (Any pirate can take the audio output of a CD player and convert the signal to MP3, whether or not the CD has DRM. And Apple’s FairPlay system was cracked almost the moment it came out.)

When major companies insist on locking up your digital media, it interferes with fans’ perfectly lawful use of music, movies and other copyrighted works: it can prevent you from making backups of your music downloaded from online stores, recording your favourite TV programmes or using the portable media player of your choice. And that is what it really is all about: your choice.

I am in no doubt whatsoever that the current restrictions that are in place are only harming music and its creators – a lot more than they are helping.

Ashley Morgan of Big Arena says ‘We believe that once you have purchased an album or a track you should be able to freely copy that album or track to other devices that you own. It is in an artist’s best interest that his or her music be heard as often as possible.’

I agree with you unreservedly, Mr. Morgan.