Pirate Rantings

The past week saw a handful of artists join the outspoken ranks to rant about piracy. In addition to Lilly Allen gobbing off, Darren Hayes used his MySpace page to say a few words on how illegal downloading was destroying the industry before our very eyes. Judging by the comments on his page from his loyal fans, his words were hitting home - even enlightening those who hadn't realised the consequences of their actions.

Hayes suggests that ISPs should be ultimately responsible for coming down hard on illegal downloading. Not a new argument - we've been having this debate for months now and it simply isn't going to change behaviour.

The simple fact is that the industry cannot blame illegal downloading for it's "collapse". Everything about the industry is fundamentally changing. When Hayes was in Savage Garden he would have relied on the old machine - major label, traditional media relations, the touring mafia, compact discs sold in massive chain record stores. The digital revolution has turned that entire world upside down.

If we value the freedom that the Internet has given us, we cannot blame it for change. The artist can now publish, release, promote and interact with more automomy than ever before. Hayes uses social media to connect himself directly to his fan base - something that would have been impossible in the old regime. He has effectively been running his own career - thanks to the independence of the digital world. Would a major label still be supporting his solo career? How would he continue to reach an audience without the benefits of the net?

The business model of music needs to evolve. But if money is all that an artist cares about - indeed if that is all any individual cares about - they need to reconsider their priorities. The new industry offers any artist the opportunity, for the first time, to connect with a global audience. Surely that is reward in itself.

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