This photo stolen from TreyGunn.com .
I got into an exchange with Seattle musician Trey Gunn this week about illegal downloading. Trey's a pro who's played with many, many musicians over the years, including King Crimson. Several months ago he posted an appeal to illegal downloaders on his site, TreyGunn.com. Here's the appeal. I've got a couple thoughts after the jump:
This photo stolen from TreyGunn.com.
Thanks for your interest in my work. However, in order to continue to make new recordings I need to be able to:
1. Make a living off of my currents records
2. Be able to finance new projects
By putting up this link you are choosing to reduce the possibility of these two things happening. In a very real sense when people click this link, they are voting to send me to a day job working at Microsoft, Amazon, or Starbucks instead of putting my time, energy and money towards creating new pieces. (No offense meant to anyone here. These are great places to work and I have many friends at these companies. It's just not my work. And, incidentally, these folks generally make double or triple of my take-home pay.)
I'd much rather you write about what you value in my work and send people to my own website to support the process of further creation.
I understand that 'sharing' my work is, in a way, an act of supporting it. Meaning that you are saying, "Hey, this stuff is cool. I think you should check it out." And in a true sense you are extending its influence in the world. However you are only supporting this particular artifact of my work, while undermining the process that created the piece. For example, this recording of Modulator took over two years to make. If I can't financially support the process, then the game is over.
I am, obviously, biased towards a culture that values the creative process. And by 'creative process' I don't just mean 'a lot of artistic noise.' I mean a process whereby completely new and original ideas are brought into the world. For many, many reasons this process is precarious at it's best, so why not help it along rather than undermine it?
I know that you must value these things, as well. Otherwise you would feel no reason to share the results that come from this type of work. I would just urge you to take a moment to extend your thinking into what makes beautiful, amazing, powerful pieces of music come into being in the first place. And then, maybe, ask "How can I help that to happen?"
Among the myriad comments Trey's appeal fetched, my favorite is the one that broke down the four different types of illegal downloaders:
Downloaders are dividied in:
1. People without financial resources to buy the album
2. People without physical access to the music (i.e., poor distribution)
3. People who simply don't care and like to save money from CD purchases by downloading the material.
4. People who see downloading as sampling, experimenting new music before buying it.
Those in bins 1, 2, and 4 are prime candidates for subscription-based services like Mog and Rhapsody. Though they're not perfect, you can get in there for as little as $5 a month (something anyone with Internet connection can afford), and artists are compensated (even if just a little) in the process. It's not perfect, but it's legit.
I might actually add a fifth entry to the list: Those who can afford to buy music but spend their money elsewhere and convince themselves they can't afford it. I thought about this recently when I was reading a story in LA Weekly about the Coachella festival. Reacting to complaints about the rise in festival prices, founder Paul Tollett said:
"I think we've made it to where you can actually do it on a budget. The person who complains and says, 'I can only go one night because of money,' and then they stay at La Quinta Resort? I don't really feel that's fair.