June 27, 2005 12:36 PM PDT

Musicians, songwriters: P2P ruling rocks

If there's one group that seems excited about the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in the Grokster file-sharing case, it's the people in the studio.

Many musicians, songwriters and music publishers reacted positively to the court's ruling, which essentially said that peer-to-peer networks can be held liable for copyright infringement.

"Everyone that truly loves music should be happy with this decision."
--Lamont Dozier
Songwriter

Although the peer-to-peer networks have allowed smaller bands and musicians to reach wider audiences, illegal downloads have hurt their bottom lines by depressing sales.

"It became so rampant that it was hurting everyone," said Matt Whittington, label manager for Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, or ESL. "Everyone wants to get paid for what they do."

ESL was created by members of Thievery Corporation, a musical act that decided to form its own brand rather than try to sign with a major label. The group has had No. 1 hits in Greece and Portugal this year. However, it still only sells about 150,000 to 250,000 records a year.

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"If we lose 30 percent, that's a big deal," Whittington said.

Jimmy Boudreau, a musician who has recorded with Sam Brown and Herman's Hermits, also said the ruling will help smaller acts.

"I make original music for a living," he said in an e-mail. "I have had relatives brag to me about how many songs they have downloaded for free and can fit onto a CD. I tell them that as a musician, making original music, there is only one way I can react to this. It is wrong. Have file-swapping networks hurt my business? Absolutely."

Within hours of the decision, several groups, including the American Federation of Musicians, the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America, West, issued a joint statement in support of the ruling.

The life of a musician in the download era can be difficult. Perk, a struggling artist in Los Angeles, last week at an event held by Internet radio company Mercora said he makes more money selling T-shirts than records. His friends tell him they buy CDs, but then burn copies for friends, forgetting that that hurts him, he said.

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Famous artists chimed in, too.

Lamont Dozier, who was part of the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting trio, which penned "Nowhere to Run," "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" and other big '60s hits, said he was pleased with the ruling.

"I have worked hard all my life to make a living creating music that people love, and this decision creates a firm foundation for the next generation of songwriters to flourish," Dozier said in a statement. "Everyone that truly loves music should be happy with this decision."

A potential downside to the ruling could be in the area of distribution. Even radio executives admit that station formats have limited the opportunity for younger or new bands to be heard. Peer-to-peer networks have helped counter that.

"I don't think we have been hurt by free downloading or file swapping. In talking to our artists, they haven't felt hurt or taken advantage of because of downloading," said Mariella Luz of K Records. "If anything, I think it helps promote smaller bands, not hurt them."

Radio execs also claim that digital radio, which will allow them to cram up to eight radio stations into bandwidth that now can only accommodate one, will help ameliorate the monochromatic tones of corporate radio.

ESL's Whittington asserted that there have been almost no bands that have succeeded purely because of these networks. And musicians, he added, can't be the only ones sacrificing for their ideals.

"If you license your song to a commercial, you are branded a sellout," Whittington said. "You get branded a sellout by people who didn't pay for the song in the first place."

5 comments

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Strange
Here they go again thinking that 1 download = 1 lost sale.

Have they ever stopped to consider that perhaps they are losing sales because of the influx of competing entertainment technologies like console gaming and TiVo? Of course not.

Have they ever considered that perhaps the reason they are selling the number of albums they are now is because they are getting free publicity and exposure on the trading networks and people are buying the albums? Of course not.

I dont condone file swapping.. I think if you enjoy an artists music you should compensate them accordingly (preferably by mailing a check directly to the artist so he gets more than 1% of the profits off his work). But the music industry needs to stop seeing everything in black and white. The world doesnt work that way, the subject is infinitely more complex than they are taking into account, and if they're not careful they may end up shooting themselves in the foot yet again.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
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This writer needs to go back to journalism school
> illegal downloads have hurt their bottom lines by depressing sales.

That's a fine statement if you're quoting the (evil) recording industry flacks, but as a factual assertion, it falls flat.

Non-industry-paid studies researching "industry harm" from P2P have been mostly been inconclusive or demonstrated that P2P hasn't measurably affected CD sales.

So to the journalist of this story... be a bit more careful, please. "Alleged harm" and "Harm claimed by recording studio executives..." -- that's more appropriate.
Posted by ThatAdamGuy (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"making a living"...
I have been a musician and songwriter for almost 30 years. In that time, between thousands of live gigs, radio shows, airplay and recordings, I have yet to see more than $1,000.00 as a result. There are many of us who play for LOVE, because we cannot help but create. The people who stand to gain from this ruling, and the R.I.A.A.-holes who are behind it, have NOTHING TO DO with music. Artist royalties are now, and have always been, second to the record companies' profit/loss numbers. Mr. Dozier said it well, he is in it for the money. Maybe he's never heard of groups like Radiohead, who, after releasing "Hail to the Thief" online and live, went on to enter the charts at #1. And last week, their album "o.k. computer" was chosen album of the century. They GIVE the music to fans, and the fans reward their efforts by buying the package and supporting the band. This decision will not hold. We are in a position to take back control of our work, and this is the last gasp of the old dinosaur that eats money. If they make it illegal to swap files, then e-mail will be next. Keep trading the tapes, keep SHARING, because that is really the word they hate. I play for love, not money. And you cannot stop the free trade of ideas and information.
Posted by (1 comment )
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music art money
i'm an artist. i agree with sharing what i create. i don't create because there's money involved. i create because it is in me and must come out. however, when someone asks to buy something of mine, i balk at suggesting a price. what price is there on me? how can i charge you for something that is a piece of me? here, take it, it's yours if you like it that much. true music is art, it comes from within and MUST come out in one way or another. if it's such a bad thing to share it online to the risk of a million free downloads that hurt your monetary situation -- don't make it available online. don't make it available to anybody to do anything with, because somewhere down the line, somebody isn't going to pay for it, and you're out a quarter. keep it all for yourself so that when you die, you have everything. but just think of that-- a million people listening to your music! they may not have paid for it directly to you, but hey-they're listening to it! putting anything online is not sacred. it is easily copied and pasted, or dowloaded, or images copied. even if they have a copyright on them, it is easy to remove with the right software. when i was a child, my parents taught me to share my toys with my friends. i thought that was a general lesson that all children should learn. i guess when you grew up, that's when you got selfish and greedy and you didn't want to share because somebody else will then have what you have!!! good god, people. leave the damned money out of it and do it "...for duty and humanity!"
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
So one sided
So what about all the musicians who approve or encourage online swapping... This story only addressed the author's agenda and ignored all else.
And let's face it, if anyone really cares about the artists, why aren't we seeing many lawsuits, court rulings and legislation to force the entertainment industry to pay the artists the money they are contractually bound to pay? It's a very well documented fact that labels use all sorts of tricks to avoid paying even the fraction of a percent of profits they make to the ones who actually created something. And the industry is on record opposing legislation to force compliance. Their stance: "we don't need legislation to address this isssue." (and that's a nearly perfect quote from another story posted here months back)
I guess the industry feels their marketing efforts represent the whole value of the product sold and that consumers and creators should be happy they even let us exist. And it's even more obvious that the courts and legislature cares only for the rights of those who have money to fund their next campaign and retirement fund.

Remember the lawsuit over monopolistic practices on the part of the industry that artificially inflated the prices of CDs for many many years? Know how much I got in settlement? $13. Not even enough to buy 1 single new CD. And that lawsuit covered the years before P2P when I actually bought CDs.
So who's wack now be-atch?
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
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