Robin Pecknold's Fleet Foxes release their sophomore LP, Helplessness Blues, Tuesday via Seattle's Sub Pop Records.
"Why is it news that I'm OK with file-sharing? To not be is to waste energy on something you can't do anything about." --Robin Pecknold
After Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold told the Times of London that he still supported illegal file-sharing and that "music has no inherent value"--something he reiterated in an "interview" with Reverb this morning--we asked Jonathan Poneman, the co-founder of his record label, Sub Pop, to provide us with his thoughts on file-sharing and its role in crippling the music industry and turning fans on to new music. Specifically, we sent Poneman the following three questions:
-- Are there instances where downloading for-profit music without paying for it is justified?
-- The overriding narrative on this topic has been that file-sharing hurts labels, not artists. Is this the case?
-- Do you think that when artists say things in support of file-sharing, it makes it harder to convince fans to pay for music?
Here's what he said:
Record labels regularly coordinate strategic free downloads of for-profit music as a marketing tool. The file-sharing dilemma is complicated, but one thing is certain: while it certainly depletes the label's financial resources, it hurts the artists' earnings as well--big time.
The label vs. artist narrative is, itself, bogus. The best labels provide tactical support, capital, and necessary resources to artists, many of whom would be frustrated, ripped off, or simply ignored if left to build comparable support systems from scratch. There are exceptions, of course, but most are either veteran "name" artists or entrepreneurs.
For years now, there has been an open infatuation with the idea that music should be "free." This is simplistic thinking. Because not only is "free" not free, but the loss of revenue incurred by "free" triggers a frantic search for additional compensation elsewhere.
I believe that it's a good idea for artists to know their business. Any good label's mission
should include sharing information as to how money is made, spent, and lost with its artists.