Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Downloading debate on prime time TV

So there was a program, discussion on downloading and the effect it's having on the music industry and artists (primarily Australian), right now. Nothing new in a world sense, this debate has been going on online, throughout blogs and everywhere from record stores through to the offices of major label record labels for quite some time.

This edition of the SBS program Insight, appropriately titled "Mi Tunes" was aired last night at 7:30pm. SBS is primarily a channel that focuses on World news, World music, World cinema. Along with ABC, it offers a more global perspective than it's commercial competitors whose programming often appeals to those who don't really like to think that deeply - sensationalist current affair programs, well written but often glossy, cliche ridden drama and comedy programs from the states and a bunch of reality tv programs that are quite frankly shit and a waste of ones life.

Getting back to this discussion on downloading. These are my thoughts on last nights program and the whole debate:

It's a complex issue. It's certainly not as black and white as the draconian inhabitants of major record labels think it is. As far as Hip Hop and club music goes, mixtapes, mixshows, word of mouth promotion and risk taking (both in a musical sense and in a wider perspective) were the foundation for these genres. If anyone has read Frank Broughton and Bill brewsters excellent book "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life", then they would have seen that record labels when mixtapes were starting out couldn't understand them, their first reaction was to use their might to stop these tapes circulation in every way possible. The same thing is happening with dowloading the only difference is that rather than taking each person who downloads music as opposed to paying for it to court, there is this three strike bullshit. As someone who has a blog, is a freelance writer, deejays and buys records, what infuriates me is these suits have no idea about the deejays role in breaking music still. Worse still if it was up to them, all we would hear is the garbage commercial music that is shoved down our throats everywhere from the mainstream newspapers to You Tube. They're still stuck in the past, spending ridiculous money on acts whose albums for the most part sound like a collection of lucklustre singles rather that a cohesive whole that you actually want to listen to. They promote acts who all look and sound like each other and then wonder why record sales are falling and blame it on downloading. Without the array of cool blogs out there there are a plethora of great artists that would never be known if it wasn't for music lovers putting they're music out there. Not whole albums, but a song or two, so that people know about music that often is forgotten, ignored or unknown.

From a deejays, music fans perspective, if a track is shared, won't more people then want to see them live, won't more people want to go and get their record? Also, it's promotion, a lot of these artists, if it weren't for deejays, if it weren't for blogs, if it weren't for mixtapes, their fanbase would be non existant pretty much. I see a few of the musicians on the show's point of view to a degree, that downloading is taking money out of their pocket. But then at the same time, it would seem that downloading and uploading entire albums would seem to be the problem, not a song or two so that more people can actually check out their music and find about a cool artist they may not have necessarily known about. I didn't hear anything in the discussion about music blogs, so from in that sense, I definitely felt that ground wasn't covered. The debate focussed primarily on the activities of primarily high school teenagers and the effect their activities are having on Australian musicians. That's it, if you're passionate about good music and promoting it, that's what you're concerned with because that's what you do. You also want to see more music from the artists whose music you dig, so you will go and buy their records, tunes online as well as playing music that has not been released on music stores online or wax, music that deejays and music producers often put out there themsleves so that it gets heard!

What are your thoughts on this topic?

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