I can remember, back in the day, if someone was looking for new music, they'd record things from the radio, or they'd go to a friend's place and copy their cassettes, or in some cases, their vinyl or even CDs. Movies were a little harder to do, but could be done, and people were taping things from TV all the time. Pirating computer software was a little harder as the technology was a little more primitive, but it was still done. Fast forward to the internet age...and everything can be downloaded within minutes (seconds, if your internet connection is top-notch). Piracy has become much easier, and a much bigger problem than it was back in the day.
For the purposes of this post, I'm focusing on music (big surprise there!). Being a DJ, the music I play on my radio shows, particularly the EBM/industrial tracks I play, come from the promotional services of the labels and, in some cases, the artists themselves. We get this material with the conditional clause that it NEVER gets sent to illegal downloading sites for others to download as well. The artists put a great deal of effort into creating this material, and for their efforts to wind up on illegal sites...well, it's rather disheartening. And it happens far too often: just recently, Espermachine's new CD, "Dying Life," which was mastered through Tom (Assemblage 23) Shear's label 23db Records, was released in its digital form to the press only for reviewing...and it wound up, very quickly, on illegal downloading sites. This kind of thing has been happening far too often as of late, and it's discouraging and frustrating for the artists and album producers to discover that their hard work is available for anyone to download without paying for the work.
There's been plenty of talk on the subject as to how to combat the situation. Reporting the site or trying to have the offending site shut down is seemingly not the way to go, as when one is shut down, several more pop up to replace it. Asking to have the download links removed only works for a short period of time, as the link will appear on another site. Keeping track of them all can prove to be headache-making as well. But someone may have actually come up with an idea that might just work.
YouTube has become one of the most interesting and useful tools for music promotion over the last few years. At any given time, Facebook is littered with video postings of music tracks, potentially reaching millions of users, giving free promotion of music projects to a much broader audience. Recently, Tom Shear of Assemblage 23 hit upon the idea of using this to promote his new album, "Bruise," which comes out June 12th on Metropolis Records. He has uploaded the tracks for both CDs of the limited edition of the album to his YouTube channel for fans to preview. He's also employing the option of putting ads on the videos to generate a little revenue from the replaying of the videos. Having heard the double-CD package, it's well worth the money.
Is this a solution to regain some of the lost revenue caused by music piracy? We'll have to see, as Mr. Shear's experiment has only recently been launched. But here's hoping it helps.
In the meantime, Espermachine's album "Dying Life" is available on the Assemblage 23 store website, along with previews of the tracks.