Free? Get It Now?

So we recently discovered that the Kays record is available as an illegal download on a couple of file sharing sites, possibly more than a couple.  A month before the record is actually available to buy somehow those sites have managed to get hold of our record and it’s now free, for people who happen to stumble across it, to download.   Lets face it, it’s not really a case of somehow, it’s a case of somebody.  Somebody, who was given the record early to review or just for comment, has gone and either fired it to somebody who has uploaded it to one of these sites, or, they themselves just uploaded it.  Either way, it’s disappointing because in giving these people the record you are trusting that they will keep it to themselves, at least until it’s released.  I guess the reality is that that’s never likely to happen.  They may burn their friend a copy because they think they’ll like it, seeing no harm in this, and really there is none.   However, they in turn may do something similar, and then their friend do something similar and all of a sudden it’s on a file sharing site as a free download.  There is not a lot we can do about it to be honest.  And I have accepted, after my initial disappointment, that as long as people are downloading it and listening to it then we may make a whole load of new fans out of it.  I am also not so hypocritical to have a major rant about the issue for, whilst I have never illegally downloaded any music in my life, I have received music on a memory stick or cd that somebody has burnt for me.  It’s not quite the same thing I guess, but I am still getting the music for nothing.  I guess the difference is that personally, when I love something I will ALWAYS buy it.  No matter what.  I also don’t really receive a lot of free stuff, which is surprising for a blogger, but what I do receive, if I love it, I will always buy a copy of the cd as and when I can afford to.  And things that I do receive are offered to me by artists or their representatives.

So I’ve been thinking long and hard about this all last night and all today and I’ve decided that I’m going to take the positive stance on the matter.  The music is getting out there to people and people are obviously interested.  They must be to put it on a site like that in the first place right?  Hopefully those who do care about the band and do care about supporting musicians by buying their records will buy the record all the same once it’s released.   I guess my initial reaction was more to do with disappointment in human nature than loss of sales.   To put somebody’s work on one of these sites before the record has even arrived in their possession is fairly fucking low if you ask me.  Sure, it might make us new fans but why should these people, who are not willing to pay for the music, hear the record before all those who care and support us every single day?  It makes me want to make it free to all my friends.  A thank you to those who do care and support us in a way.  If I could afford to do that I really would.  I am sorely tempted just to stream it for free on our myspace page as a massive fuck you to these sites.  Unfortunately, the reality is that the record cost Graeme and I a lot to record and produce.  So we need record sales simply to make our money back.  We need the support of those who care. 

The last thing I want to do is sit here and sound like I am somebody who wants to just sell a piece of plastic or a piece of intellectual property.  Not one bit.  I want my music to be heard by as many people as possible.  I want people to have it and spread the word and to be part of the overall process which is creating and sharing music.  I completely understand that file sharing is a massive part of this process.  Of course I do.  I just don’t like the fact that before we’ve even received our own physical product.  Before anyone has even written about the record. Before those who matter to me have even heard the bloody thing. The record is out there for people to take for nothing.

I hope those who have or do download it for free enjoy it and if they like it enough then they do buy a physical copy and support the band.  I hope they like it and I hope they support us in future but, more than that, I hope they remember this;  We are not signed.  We do not receive financial support from a record label.  We pay for everything ourselves.  I have had to extend my overdraft and borrow from my parents to put this record out.  So please, if you are going to download it for free, at least buy a copy when the record is officially released on 17th May.  If you cannot afford a copy now, then buy one when you can.  It’s not a big ask really.

Anyways, the whole thing was really badly timed given that it was Record Store day this past weekend.  There is nothing I love doing more than spending hours browsing round record stores.  Opening a record store was actually something Graeme and I discussed doing when we were still at Uni and didn’t really know in what direction our futures lay.  So yes, I love record stores and I love the physical product.  Nothing beats having a record in your hand.  Something that has been put together with a lot of love and attention.  Take Meursault’s new record for example.  The limited edition was put together with so much love and care and thought.  Why would you download that record when you could have something so special?  I never got one of the limited editions.  Couldn’t afford it myself.  Plus, Matthew sent me the record for the blog.  However, I will be buying a copy when it’s officially released in May, because I love it and I care about them as a band.  Record stores matter to me.  Records matter to me.  Artists matter.

I’ll finish with something that an excellent blogger Peenko said to me last night to help pick up my spirits.  He quoted this at me:

“Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and artists than piracy”

This really did help me shape my thoughts today.  Ultimately, when someone downloads a piece of music, it’s just data until the listener puts that music back together with their own ears, their mind, their subjective experience. How they perceive the work changes the work.  And I guess for us, at this stage in our career it’s all about getting our music heard.  I accept this.  I just hope that those who like the music can lend us their support by buying the cds that we have so lovingly spent time creating.  The end.

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7 thoughts on “Free? Get It Now?

  1. Aw, bad luck. The “at least you’re getting new fans argument” never really helps that much when it’s your investment on the line, and I guess it’s even worse when you’re a DIY operation and know for a fact that you’ve only sent it to a finite amount of people. At least with leaks from majors they can blame all the bureaucracy and middle-men rather than loose trust in the reviewers…

    The only encouragement i can give is to assure you that there are people – honest, record-buying people – waiting for Be Still…

    (BTW, Ten Times is ace!)

  2. Hi Tom. Thanks. I’m staying positive on this. I think we will make a lot of new fans from the illegl leak. And to be honest, it’s not the financial side of things that bothered me really. I’m sure we’ll make our money back from record sales. I was just really disappointed that it has happened a month before the record is actually released. After it’s release I fully expected it. I don’t think it’s possible to stop this kind of thing and I see the positive side of it. I really do. Ultimately you make music for yourself but as soon as you decided to release it, it becomes something totally different. I just wish whoever uploaded the album to the site had had the decency to wait until the album was actually available to all.

  3. Hi, I definitely see your point here and agree with you partially. I’d think that me being the “listener” puts me in a different position than you who actually makes the music, but anyway there are a couple of things that I wanted to say.

    I’ll try not to get too much into the sharing legality issue as it is never-ending and without a clear answer, however I’d like to say that I myself see no harm in being able to download the Kays’ new album prior official release, and I’ll tell you why.

    As I’m sure you’re aware, nowadays hype is all built through the internet (whether we like it or not) and being able to download the album before it gets released can do more good than damage in my opinion.

    I myself received the album from PR and have really enjoyed it, and now all I keep doing is recommending it to my mates, talking about it in forums and creating anticipation; even if I get to convince 2 or 3 people to get the album, I think it’s still a success.

    There is really too much music coming out every single day and keeping up with every new act is simply impossible, so being able to download an album makes it much easier to know a band, form an opinion and decide if you actually want to buy the album.

    Personally, I admit I do download music in a perhaps illegal fashion, but simply because I am not going to spend 10 quid on an album I am not sure I will want to listen to more than once or twice.

    However, if I do like what I’m hearing, I will definitely go out and purchase their album, whether it’s a CD or 7″, and just like myself, many others will also do it this way. We’re probably a minority, but still, eh? 🙂

    Plus, as you said and completely agree with you, when labels and/or artists make available to purchase limited editions of their album, just like Meursault, Conquering Animal Sound, etc., it really drives you to spend the money cos you know it’s worth it, you know the artist deserves it and there’s truly nothing like owning a beautiful album, just like I refuse to think that print will ever die.

    There’s a lot more I could say but I better stop now. Anyway, best of luck with that great debut album, I’m sure your efforts will be rewarded 🙂

  4. Mark. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t disagree with you for the most part. I was actually talking to Matthew from Song By Toad about this last night. I guess ultimately, I’m not angry with those downloading it and I completely see the point that it attracts more listeners/fans. I’m not upset that people are listening to and hopefully, like you, enjoying the record. I guess what bothers me is that somebody felt that they had the right to upload something and make it available before we as a band wanted it out there. It was not theirs to do that with.

    I accept that once the record is out there it would be on these sites anyway and I’m ok with that. I guess what you have to realise is that when you are building up to launch shows and a debut release the anticipation and excitement is high. Being told that people could download it before the release date kind of took the wind out of my sails. And the fact that only people we trusted had it made it that little bit worse. Somebody leaked it. And it’s quite sad when you think about it.

    Ultimately I am ok with it though. I know more people will find us because of it. I just hope, like you, they take the time to listen and maybe buy a copy when the record is out, or come to a show. Lets hope it has a very positive impact.

    Again, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments and your support.

  5. Just like you said in your post, it’s probably best to try to see it in good light, and think that if somebody leaked it surely it must mean it’s worth listening to. I don’t see why one would bother to leak something they don’t like 😉

    We will never know though what are the true intentions of those who leak and share music downloads, so it’s best to leave it at that.

    That being said, I can also see your state of mind, actually I can only imagine what it must be to plan an album, write it, record it, handle PR, live shows, etc. and on top unexpected downloads before time.

    I think the music industry has changed a lot, too much, in this internet age to still see it as a profitable business. I think music should be done only by those who truly love music, and put money only at a very distant second place. But that’s me.

    Cheers for taking the time to reply to my comment, it was much appreciated 🙂

  6. Not at all. Like I said, I don’t want to come across as somebody who only cares about making money. I don’t make music to make money. All I really hope for the record is that I make back the money we spent on it, cause it’s money that I couldn’t afford and didn’t have. Anything after that is a bonus to me. Bands who have the financial support of a label don’t know how lucky they are.

    The music, without doubt, is the primary focus for me. I cannot remember many shows where The Kays have been offered a fee, or paid. I do it cause I love it and everything after that is a bonus. Take last night for example. I did a solo show in Edinburgh and got paid nothing but I wanted to play because it was Library Tapes headlining. Getting to share a bill with somebody like him, whose music I love, is far more exciting to me than collecting money from record sales.

    I think if you knew me and knew how much money I have lost on the Kays, putting on music nights in Edinburgh, my record label – to name a few things. You’d realise that I’m all about the music.

    The only thing that bothered me about the illegal downloads was the betrayal of trust. That’s all. But I’m over it now cause nice people like you are downloading and enjoying our record and spreading the word.

    So again, thanks.

  7. Sorry to hear that, its such a shitfest predicament as though you may be getting new listeners, i wouldn’t ever call people who steal music as ‘fans’. Fans don’t just like the music but like the band too which, these days, seems to be two entirely different camps.

    I’m amazed how even seemingly intelligent friends of mine can’t grasp the fact that a band, or anything for that matter, needs sustenance in order to keep going. I like your comment of “If you cannot afford a copy now, then buy one when you can”, as many people seem to think they need music, forgetting that its a luxury that should be appreciated for such. No one needs to hear a record more than the band needs money for the record.

    Peenko is right though, its a matter that needs to be accepted by working musicians and by giving real fans something extra for their pounds, hopefully more people will follow suit.

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